China’s oil demand has collapsed in recent weeks as the scale of the coronavirus epidemic first reported in early January becomes clear. Beijing on 23 January banned all travel to and from the epicenter of Wuhan – a key transport hub of 11mn people. Numerous airlines have since halted flights to and from China, whilst the end of the normally week-long lunar New Year holiday was extended from 30 January to 2 February with many schools and workplaces remaining shuttered.

With oil demand from transportation and industry collapsing, top Chinese refiner Sinopec, with over 5mn b/d of CDU capacity, cut planned runs by 12%, or 600,000 b/d, for February. And cuts have been even steeper at the 3mn b/d of independent refinery capacity in eastern China’s Shandong province where average run rates have fallen below 50% for the first time since 2015, Reuters reports. (CONTINUED - 1140 WORDS)