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Energy

China's Sept refinery output eases from highs

* Sept crude runs 13.96 mln bpd, +1.3% on yr

* Jan-Sept runs +2.9% yr/yr, around 13.2 mln bpd

* Jan-Sept gas output up 8.7% on yr

SINGAPORE, Oct 19 (Reuters) - China’s crude oil throughput in September dipped from the heady levels of the previous two months, as refineries drew down bulging inventories of refined fuel.

The country processed 57.35 million tonnes of crude oil last month, or 13.96 million barrels per day (bpd), according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

That was up 1.3% from a year earlier, but just down from 14 million bpd in August and a daily record set in June at 14.08 million bpd.

Total throughput during the first 9 months of 2020 reached 495.38 million tonnes, or 13.2 million bpd, up 2.9% from the same period in 2019.

Refiners have been ramping up production to record rates since June, encouraged by healthy margins for processing cheap oil bought in March and April when prices were at their lowest in decades following the outbreak of the coronavirus. At the same time, they capped overseas shipments because of weak export margins.

Fuel demand in the world’s second-largest user has been quick to recover from the pandemic. Diesel demand was boosted by construction and trucking activity following government stimulus measures, while a steady rebound in new car sales has lifted gasoline.

A relative resurgence in travel during the Golden Week holiday at the start of October lifted gasoline and jet fuel use.

Still, fuel output has outpaced demand growth, resulting in ballooning inventories.

The NBS data also showed China’s crude oil output in September at 16.1 million tonnes, or about 3.92 million bpd, up 2.4% from the same month a year earlier.

Output for the first three quarters rose 1.7% on the year to 146.25 million tonnes of crude oil.

Natural gas output last month gained 7.6% from a year earlier to 14.6 billion cubic metres (bcm), the bureau reported, with January-to-September production grew a robust 8.7% from a year earlier to 137.1 bcm. (Tonne = 7.3 barrels for crude conversion) (Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Neil Fullick and Richard Pullin)

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