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PetroChina Oil Output Drops, Gas Rises
PetroChina, the nation's largest oil producer, said it produced more oil and gas in the first quarter of this year while oil prices jumped by 67 percent during the period with the war in Iraq arousing supply concerns on the international market.

The company's oil and gas output rose 1.5 percent year-on-year to 221.8 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE), it said in a statement.

Crude oil output slid down 0.1 million barrels to 191.1 million barrels, while output of marketable natural gas increased 12.8 percent to 184.5 billion cubic feet.

"The crude oil production decline is in line with the market expectation as its oil fields are becoming senior," said an industry analyst with a Beijing-based investment bank.

PetroChina said the average oil sales price surged by 66.8 percent over the period one year ago to US$29.26 a barrel during the quarter.

The prices for refined oil products including gasoline, diesel and kerosene have also increased by some 50 percent on average. The gas price remains flat at US$1.95 per thousand cubic feet.

"Affected by the war and the low inventory level of oil, prices of crude oil and oil products increased significantly quarter-on-quarter," the statement said.

By controlling the processing volume, the company also saw its refining margins improve.

The company processed 147.4 million barrels of crude oil during the period, an increase of 9.3 percent year-on-year.

An investment bank analyst said whether PetroChina maintains the current momentum depends on oil prices and acquisitions of overseas reserves.

(China Daily April 16, 2003)

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