Although recent economic data show sluggish growth of Chinese economy, petroleum demand in August was unexpectedly steady.
Apparent petroleum demand, or pure domestic demand, in China rose 3.7% on year to 9.74 million barrels per day, according to Platts' estimation. Demand in the first eight months rose 1.2% from a year ago.
Since demand fell 2.1% on year in July, quarterly growth data might be about 1% on year growth.
Platts' data do not include change of petroleum stockpile. Meanwhile, Xinhua News reported that end-August stocks of petroleum products fell 6.2% from a month ago. Especially, gas oil inventories decreased 10.3% from a month earlier.
China's domestic petroleum demand that contains the inventory movements was 10.01 million bpd, up 4.7% on year. However, it is doubtful that the figures really reflect the nation's petroleum demand.
News have reported sluggish gasoil sales in China despite the large decrease of stockpile
Crude oil processing by Chinese refineries in August rose 4.4% from a year ago, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. But refineries might have increased processing because they did not have enough crude oil storage capacity.
Higher crude oil processing produced large number of petroleum products in China. Oil companies seemed to be unwilling to keep high products inventories, since prices were softening.
Domestic official petroleum sales prices have caught up with the movements of international markets more timely after the Chinese government changed the price setting methodology last year.
Firmer petroleum demand in China is very strange. It is inconsistent with decreasing petroleum demand in other Asian countries like India and Japan as well as slump in Chinese economic data.