BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s crude oil output is set to remain flat in 2019 while its natural gas demand will rise 11 percent, according to a closely watched forecast from analysts at the country’s largest oil and gas producer.
Crude output from the world’s top oil importer will stabilize at 190 million tonnes in 2019, the same level as last year, analysts from the research unit of China National Petroleum Corp said on Wednesday.
That forecast indicates that China’s oil majors could struggle to ramp up domestic production and boost reserves despite a call from President Xi Jiping for them to step up their contributions to national energy security.
China’s state oil and gas producers PetroChina, Sinopec Corp and CNOOC have vowed to increase their domestic oil and gas drilling in the wake of such calls.
The nation’s fuel markets will remain oversupplied, the CNPC forecast showed, with China expected to add 32 million tonnes of new refining capacity in 2019.
A worsening glut in local markets could force refiners to ask for larger export quotas, the analysts said, with total refined products exports likely to climb 19 percent from last year to 48.6 million tonnes.
Diesel consumption is expected to fall to 158 million tonnes from 159.8 million last year, while gasoline demand is seen growing 3.6 percent to 131.9 million tonnes.
The country’s natural gas demand will reach 308 billion cubic meters (bcm), CNPC said. That marks an 11.4-percent climb from 2018, although the pace of growth would be down from 16.6 percent recorded previously.
Domestic gas production is expected to reach 170.8 bcm by 2019, according to the forecast.
Reporting by Meng Meng and Dominique Patton; Editing by Tom Hogue and Joseph Radford