China boosted crude processing to an all-time high in December as refineries resumed operations after seasonal maintenance and a plant in the country’s east started a new distillation unit.

Refiners processed 44.58 million metric tons of crude last month, or about 10.54 million barrels a day, both record levels, data from the National Bureau of Statistics in Beijing show. The world’s second-largest oil consumer refined a total of 502.77 million tons in 2014, up 5.3 percent from a year ago.

“Sinopec and CNOOC contributed most to the increase in crude throughput as they brought refineries back online from maintenance in the last two months,” Amy Sun, an analyst at ICIS-C1 Energy, a Shanghai-based consultant, said by phone from Guangzhou. “Also, Sinopec started a new crude distillation unit at its Yangzi refinery.”

China is processing more crude amid the slump in global oil prices, bolstering speculation that its consumption may help eliminate a global supply glut. The nation’s refiners will raise operating rates in the coming months amid low diesel stockpiles and “healthy” margins, the Paris-based International Energy Agency predicted last week.

China National Offshore Oil Corp. restarted its Huizhou refinery, which has a crude-processing capacity of 241,000 barrels a day, at the end of November, according to SCI International, a Shandong-based industry website. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., known as Sinopec, also resumed operations at its 131,000 barrel-a-day Jiujiang plant on Dec. 15, it said.

Domestic crude production rose by 2.1 percent from a year earlier to 18.32 million tons in December, the statistics bureau’s data show. Natural gas output climbed 8.9 percent to 12.2 billion cubic meters, while power generation gained 1.3 percent to 490.2 billion kilowatt-hours.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Jing Yang in Shanghai atjyang251@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Pratish Narayanan atpnarayanan9@bloomberg.net Yee Kai Pin, Alexander Kwiatkowski

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