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China's Sinopec cuts off oil exports: state media

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) April 20, 2011
Chinese oil giant Sinopec has stopped exporting oil products to maintain domestic supplies amid disruption concerns caused by Middle East unrest and Japan's earthquake, a report said Wednesday.

The state-run Xinhua news agency did not say how long the suspension would last but it reported that the firm had said it also would take steps to step up output "to maintain domestic market supplies of refined oil products".

Sinopec would ensure supplies met the "basic needs" of the southern Chinese special regions of Hong Kong and Macao, but they also should expect an unspecified drop in supply, Xinhua quoted an unnamed company official as saying.

AFP was not immediately able to reach a Sinopec spokesman by phone for comment.

The report said Sinopec has raised output of refined oil products this year, with its first-quarter production reaching 31.55 million tonnes, an increase of 6.2 percent from the same period last year.

Sinopec last month said its 2010 net profit rose nearly 14 percent on higher oil prices and strong domestic demand for refined oil and chemical products.

It reported a net profit of 71.8 billion yuan ($11 billion).

The Beijing-based company attributed the result to China's rapid economic growth, robust oil demand and "the increase in the price of crude oil, oil products and petrochemical products."

It had said at the time that it would continue to "expand markets" in China and overseas this year, while intensifying its exploration efforts in the country's western regions.

Oil prices have surged on supply concerns as governments in the oil-rich Middle East and North Africa are hit by popular uprisings, while the Japan quake and resulting nuclear crisis led the country to seek other forms of energy other than atomic.

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