Chinese oil giant Sinopec profit surges

BEIJING — Sinopec, Asia’s biggest refiner by volume, said Sunday its first-half profit soared threefold from a year earlier on lower crude costs and changes in government price controls.

BEIJING — Sinopec, Asia’s biggest refiner by volume, said Sunday its first-half profit soared threefold from a year earlier on lower crude costs and changes in government price controls.

Sinopec, also known as China Petroleum&Chemical Corp., said profit for the six months ending June 30 rose to 33.2 billion yuan ($4.8 billion), or 0.381 yuan (5 cents) per share.

The company said it benefited from the Communist government’s decision to ease controls that battered Sinopec last year by preventing it from passing on record crude costs to consumers. Beijing raised state-set prices of gasoline and diesel twice in June to reflect higher global oil costs.

“Domestic oil product pricing reform has turned (the) refining business from loss to profit,” Beijing-based Sinopec said.

China’s oil suppliers have seen demand for industrial products plunge, though retail fuel sales have stayed relatively strong due to the government’s decision to shield consumers from global price rises. Sinopec said it expects demand to pick up in the second half of the year as China’s economy recovers, but that oil prices also were forecast to rise.

Crude prices have risen to about $75 per barrel on expectations of a U.S. economic recovery, but that still is down by nearly half from last year’s high.

Sinopec said its oil products fell 8.4 per cent by volume, though gasoline refining rose by 21 per cent.

“Demand for chemical products is continuously recovering,” the company said. It said financial results for the first three quarters of 2009 could show a 50 per cent improvement over a year earlier.

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