China's oil demand is estimated to rebound to 14.26 million barrels per day (bpd) in the second quarter of 2022 after the country's zero-COVID policy dampened consumption in the first quarter, a senior researcher from China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) said.

Oil consumption was assessed at 13.9 million bpd in the first quarter to March 31, down 3% from a year earlier, Dai Jiaquan, director of CNPC's oil market research department, told an online seminar on Thursday.

The reduced oil demand followed stringent mobility restrictions across China, including a two-stage lockdown in financial hub of Shanghai which could reduce fuel demand by 200,000 barrels per day, having recorded thousands of daily COVID-19 cases since March.

"The local COVID-19 outbreak will continue to weigh on China's oil consumption in April and we expect the demand to show positive growth in May," said Dai.

The transport ministry had expected a 20% drop in road traffic and a 55% fall in flights during the three-day Qingming holiday in early April.

Dai said the CNPC think tank has lowered its view on second-quarter demand by 180,000 bpd from its previous assessment, but said overall consumption would remain 1.8% higher from a year ago.

With COVID-19 cases under control and Beijing's economic stimulus to kick in, he expects oil demand in China to climb to 15.26 million bpd in the third quarter and rise to 15.37 million bpd in the fourth quarter, up 4.1% and 6.7% year on year, respectively.

(Reporting by Muyu Xu and Florence Tan; editing by Jason Neely)