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Sinopec sees limited benefits from recent oil price declines
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Sinopec, the listed refining unit of the China Petroleum and Chemical Corp, hasn't really benefited from recent declines in global crude oil prices, because its refining costs still far exceed domestic oil product prices, company officials said on Thursday.

China caps refined oil product prices at relatively low levels by world standards.

The officials said that although lower world prices would reduce import costs, global crude prices were still about $130 per barrel, well above the break-even point of $80 for Asia's largest oil refiner.

Sinopec imports about 80 percent of the crude it refines.

Earlier reports said Sinopec and another leading company, Petrochina, the two leading oil companies, recorded a combined refining loss of 5.71 billion yuan ($827 million) in the first half as soaring world crude prices raised their production costs, which were up 47.9 percent year-on-year.

China's oil companies have been losing money for each barrel of imported oil they refined and sold domestically, since they can't pass on higher costs under the government-set refined oil prices.

The government raised the benchmark gasoline and diesel oil retail prices to 6,980 yuan and 6,520 yuan per tonne in June, up more than 16 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

The increases had helped reduce refining losses, said Sinopec. It said last week that its first-half net profit would decline by more than 50 percent because of the widening gap between the government-set prices of oil products and rocketing global crude prices.

(Xinhua News Agency July 25, 2008)

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