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China's oil demand to grow 3% in 2015: CNPC research

[BEIJING] China's implied oil demand will grow 3 per cent this year versus last year, the country's top energy group forecast, little changed from the pace of growth in 2014 as calculated by Reuters.

State-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) saw the nation's oil demand rising to 10.68 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2015, some 310,000 bpd higher than last year.

The forecast, in an annual report released by CNPC's research institute on Wednesday, also put the country's net crude imports up 5.4 per cent at 6.49 million bpd for this year.

China, the world's second-largest oil consumer, raised crude imports by nearly 10 per cent last year, or an additional 530,000 bpd, largely to boost government and commercial reserves as oil companies took advantage of the more than 50 per cent fall in global benchmark prices from mid-June.

The CNPC forecast was higher than a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that put China's oil demand growth for 2015 at 2.5 per cent, down from 2.7 per cent last year.

China's implied natural gas consumption will expand 9.3 per cent this year to 200 billion cubic metres (bcm), CNPC said, while imports of piped gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) will likely rise 10.2 per cent to 65 bcm.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said on Tuesday that the country's apparent natural gas use rose 5.6 per cent last year, the slowest in over a decade.

The capacity of China's strategic oil reserves remained unchanged in 2014 at 141 million barrels for the second year in a row. China's commercial oil reserves were at 307 million barrels by the end of 2014.

Refinery capacity is set to reach 14.6 million bpd in 2015, up 4 per cent, with throughput rising 3.8 per cent to 10.3 million bpd, CNPC said.