Bench market crude oil futures touched US$40 a barrel last week,
the highest finish since the 1991 Gulf War, amid concerns over
Middle East security and tightened US supplies. The price eased
Monday with growing expectations that the Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC) will soon increase supplies in order to
offset surging prices.
Experts said the oil price rise backs strong performances by the
three largest domestic oil majors including PetroChina, Sinopec and
The profits of the three companies are expected to rise by an
average of 7 to 8 percent on every dollar per barrel rise in the
crude oil price, they said.
If the strong momentum continues, the full-year profits of the
companies are likely to jump 20 to 30 percent.
"A high oil price sustains the exploration and production
business," said Li Zhipeng, an oil analyst at Xiangcai
Petrochemical product prices increased as much as 30 percent
since last year and the performance should continue throughout this
year with high oil prices and recovering demand, said Li.
Chinese oil companies have already benefited from the price rise
last year, with an average year-on-year profit rise of 37.4
percent. The oil giants' profits account for one quarter of China's
The surging crude oil price, however, might be a nightmare for
airlines and raw materials users.
Although the government allows airlines to add a premium on
flight charges, it does not always cover the increase in fuel
costs, experts said.
International freight rates for dry cargo have nearly doubled on
the high oil prices, and the increase in shipping costs is pulling
up prices for such materials as iron ore, alumina and
For instance, the CIF (cost, insurance and freight) price for
Russian kalium fertilizer has jumped nearly 40 percent from last
January to the current price of US$165 per ton.
But some experts said that impact of rising oil prices on
China's economy won't be harder than it is on developed economies,
because of "China's relatively low dependence on crude oil and the
low inflationary pressure." Oil consumption constitutes only 20
percent of the nation's total energy mix, compared with 55 percent
in Japan and 40 percent in the United States.
The experts also said that the government would not raise the
domestic retail prices for oil products such as diesel and gasoline
China has pegged its domestic refined oil product rates to the
averages in Rotterdam, New York and Singapore. Sinopec and
PetroChina, the only two authorized wholesalers of gasoline and
diesel, are allowed to raise or drop their retail price by 8
percent from the government benchmark.
The National Development Reform Commission raised benchmark
gasoline rates by 300 yuan (US$36.30) a ton, or 8 percent, in
March, but kept prices of diesel unchanged.
"The government wants the price to be stable," said Shan
Hongqing, an expert with the Economic and Development Research
Institute of Sinopec. "Either a high or low price will hurt the
Shan also said the claim that the strong oil demand from China
has fanned the global oil price rise is exaggerated.
Earlier this year, the Paris-based International Energy Agency
said China's breakneck economic growth, leading to record oil
imports, has aggravated this year's surge in world crude
(China Daily May 11, 2004)