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Oil refiners urged to boost production
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With mounting pressure on inflation from high oil prices, the central government has urged oil refiners and manufacturers to meet market demand and rein in prices.


The National Development and Reform Commission summoned executives of leading oil producers PetroChina and Sinopec on Monday, pressing them to expand refining operations and "ensure domestic supplies".


Major edible oil manufacturers and guild leaders were also told to speed up production to check soaring market prices.


Faced with an overheating stock market and economic growth of 11.5 percent in the first three quarters of the year alone, rising inflation is now a top concern for the central government.


Inflation at 6.2 percent in September has already been seen in high prices of cooking oil and other foodstuffs, while the commission has expressed concerns that inflation is now likely to go from "structural to overall development" because of rising global fuel prices.


A spokesman for the commission said the main oil majors have pledged to operate at full capacity refining gasoline and diesel.


Crude oil prices soared to more than $96 a barrel last week, but refined oil prices are under the control of the government.


The authorities raised gasoline and diesel prices by about 10 percent last week to compensate refiners and block them from passing on record-high crude costs to consumers.


"With measures that include maintaining refining equipment and tapping into our oil-refining potential, we will increase refined oil production," the commission said.


To further contain higher costs, the government has already given out subsidies for public transportation in the cities and rural areas. Local governments have also been urged to extend temporary subsidies and increase aid to the urban poor.


(Xinhua News Agency November 7, 2007)


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