China processed a record volume of crude oil in September, data from the National Statistics Bureau revealed last week.
Oil processing in the country rose at the fastest rate for 15 months, reaching 42.02 million metric tons of crude, or about 10.3 million barrels a day. That beats the previous record of 10.2 million barrels, seen in December 2012, and represents a 9.1 percent increase compared with the same month last year.
It's not clear whether this record level of processing stems from increased demand, or is simply a reflection of refiners capitalizing on low import prices of oil.
Some analysts believe that refining companies are choosing to take advantage of low oil prices to build up their stockpiles of products such as gasoline, the Wall Street Journal reported.
"If crude runs are high, that is because import prices of oil are very low and companies are replenishing their inventories," commented Miao Tian, an analyst for investment bank North Square Blue Oak.
Globally, oil prices have dropped to four-month lows amid an increase in international supplies of crude oil and weak demand.
Last week the International Energy Agency lowered its full-year forecast for global oil demand growth to its lowest level in five years, based on lower expectations of economic growth and the weak recent trend.
Oil prices may have further to fall. According to the Wall Street Journal, some analysts have predicted that the price will drop as much as $10 a barrel in the coming months.