Sinopec expects 2010 sales to reach US$296 bln

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Sinopec Group, Asia's top oil refiner by capacity, said on Tuesday that its 2010 sales are estimated to grow by 41 percent year-on-year, buoyed by surging domestic demand for oil products and increasing upstream sales arising from oil price hikes.

The State-owned energy company's sales are to reach 1.96 trillion yuan ($296 billion) this year, compared with 1.39 trillion yuan it made in 2009, the group forecast on Tuesday.

Its total assets are forecast to hit around 1.5 trillion yuan this year, compared with 1.29 trillion yuan in assets last year.

"The company's growth is within our expectations, as demand for oil products have grown rapidly in China over the year, while its upstream exploration sector has also benefited from soaring oil prices," said Rui Dingkun, analyst with China Jianyin Investment Securities in Beijing.

The crude oil price peaked at $91.88 a barrel during Monday's trading session, a record high since October 2008.

But Sinopec said that China's controlled pricing scheme for finished petroleum products has cast a shadow over the energy giant's performance, resulting in gain of its refining sector reducing 350 billion yuan this year.

Meanwhile, sales from the conglomerate's overseas operations are to account for 27.3 percent of the group's total by the end of this year, and overseas assets will make up 31.4 percent, said Huang Wensheng, a spokesman of Sinopec Group.

That compared with the proportion of 10 percent in sales and 8 percent in assets in 2006. The increase reflected the energy company's accelerated overseas acquisitions of energy resources in recent years, analysts said.

The majority of the energy firm's sales abroad are from its products trading in Europe, particularly the United Kingdom, Huang told China Daily, without revealing details figures.

China, the world's largest energy consumer, is estimated to consume 11.63 million barrels of oil each day by 2015, up from 9.16 million barrels a day on average in 2010.

The world's second-largest economy's fast expansion pace, which is expected to be more than 9 percent this year, has triggered an oil demand surge and an increasing dependence on imports.

The country produced 189 million tons of crude oil in 2009, when the import volume hit 199 million tons, according to the National Energy Bureau. Imported crude oil accounted for 52 percent of China's total oil usage in 2009. Eighty percent of Sinopec's total crude oil consumption is imported from overseas.

The oil refiner announced on Dec 10 that it plans to buy the entire oil and gas assets of the Argentinean arm of US-based Occidental Petroleum Corp for $2.45 billion, marking its entry into the South American country's upstream oil and gas sector.

The company has six oil and gas production bases abroad in Africa, the Middle East and South America.

"We will increase our overseas sales proportion in the future and will make endeavors to develop overseas oil and gas exploration," Huang said.

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