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China Oil Demand in January 2012

Source: OPEC 1/19/2012, Location: Asia

Strong oil imports, along with a 0.3 mb/d stock-draw, hiked up China’s oil demand in November. This was the second month in a row that Chinese oil demand had shown a strong trend. The setback of the third quarter is not expected to be repeated in the fourth quarter. The recent strong oil demand came about despite some signs of economic concern in the past two months. The product that grew the most in volume was gasoline. Gasoline demand grew by 0.1 mb/d in November, to average 1.85 mb/d. Diesel demand was strong as well, resulting partially from the use of independent power-generation. November diesel demand inched up by 2.9% y-o-y, averaging 3.5 mb/d. Given the turbulence in the third quarter, Chinese oil demand is now expected to grow by 0.54 mb/d in 2011, a bit less than forecast. With weaker GDP for China expected in 2012, the country’s oil demand for the year is forecast to grow by 0.42 mb/d.

Data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers has shown that the country’s automobile sales decreased for the second month in a row during November, by 2.4%, compared with a year earlier. This was due to a very high base in the same month of 2010 and a recent sharp drop in commercial vehicle sales. Moreover, a 0.3% growth in passenger vehicles during November was much lower than in previous months. Despite the substantial weakening in auto sales in late summer, as a result of the expiry of sales incentives in the form of tax-breaks for small-engined vehicles, the whole year’s auto sales rose by more than 32%. The Russian economy’s exposure to the European debt crisis has been minimal, which has given the FSU GDP growth of more than 4% since 2010. The FSU’s oil demand growth hit the 100 tb/d mark last year. Given the resilience of the Russian economy, the FSU’s 2012 oil demand is forecast to grow by 2.5% y-o-y.

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