Oil industry information firm Platts reported today that Chinese demand for crude oil rose 7.7% in December 2012 to an average of 10.58 million barrels a day, the highest on record. The Platts analyst attributed the sharp rise to refinery expansions and higher seasonal demand for products. Crude oil demand reached 10.5 million barrels a day in November.
The rise in demand is linked to the pickup in China’s economy, which grew at a rate of 7.8% in the fourth quarter. And with higher growth forecast for 2013, demand for oil is expected to rise again this year.
In 2012, demand averaged 9.68 million barrels a day in China, up 3.4% over the average for 2011. Demand for gasoline in December rose 16.7% year-over-year to 2.25 million barrels a day. The increase in refinery capacity enabled the country to increase its gasoline exports by 31.6% year-over-year in December.
Platts notes that demand is more accurately called “apparent demand,” and is based on refinery throughput volumes and net oil product imports as reported by the government.