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China Oil Demand in August 2012

Source: OPEC 8/30/2012, Location: Asia

Despite its high oil imports, China’s oil demand eased in June, as half of its imports ended up in the country’s stockpile during that month. However, as the summer peaks, the country’s demand is expected to follow suite in July and August. Chinese demand seasonality is prominent in the third quarter, when the transport and agricultural sectors kick in during the same season.

Its demand grew by only 2% y-o-y in June and this was less than half of what was seen in May. June is considered a low season, as far as Chinese oil consumption is concerned. Nevertheless, gasoline usage picked up by 11% in the same month to average 1.9 mb/d. Despite this weakness in China’s demand in the second quarter, the country’s consumption of oil in the third quarter is expected to maintain its normal trend. Its demand in the third quarter is expected to grow by 0.4 mb/d y-o-y. In the first half of the year, China used 4% more oil than it did the same time last year. The second half of the year is forecast to maintain the same growth ratio.

Data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers shows that the country’s automobile sales grew by 10% in June y-o-y, attributed to stronger demand for sedans, SUVs and multipurpose vehicles. Meanwhile, overall sales for the first six months of 2012 rose by a mere 5.5%. This is due to the expiry of tax incentives for small cars and the authorities' efforts to combat traffic congestion and pollution in major cities. As of the beginning of this month, Guangzhou (after Beijing, Shanghai and Guiyang) became the fourth city in China limiting car sales, in order to alleviate traffic conditions and pollution. There are indications that more cities (e.g. Shenzhen, Dalian and Hangzhou) will release a policy to limit car purchases by clamping down on vehicle registrations.

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