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. PetroChina profit falls 22 percent in 2008

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) March 25, 2009
PetroChina, the listed unit of China's largest oil and gas producer, said Wednesday its net profit in 2008 fell 22 percent as the global downturn hit business and crude prices plunged.

Net profit slid to 114.43 billion yuan (16.75 billion dollars), down from 146.75 billion yuan in 2007, driven lower by falling crude prices and shrivelling demand, the company said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

"Owing to the worsening and pervasive impacts of the subprime crisis in the United States and the global economic downturn, the expected demand for crude oil declined and international crude oil prices started falling sharply from August 2008," it said.

The profit figure was lower than a Dow Jones Newswires analysts' forecast of 125.65 billion yuan.

Revenue rose, however, to 1.07 trillion yuan from 836.35 billion yuan in the year-earlier period, the statement said.

The company said it had produced crude oil and natural gas equivalent to 1.18 billion barrels of oil in 2008, up 5.7 percent from the year earlier.

Its refineries processed 849.8 million barrels of crude oil in 2008, up 3.2 percent from 2007.

However, the global woes hit the company's bottom line.

"During the fourth quarter of 2008, demand for refined products decreased and supply exceeded demand, resulting from the spreading global financial crisis and domestic economic slowdown," the statement said.

However, the company's chief said PetroChina would seek to expand overseas, saying the economic troubles had created buying opportunities abroad by reducing valuations and making countries more open to foreign investment.

"Our internationalisation strategy is very important for the company. This year around 7.8 percent of company's total production (was overseas). That is not high enough," president Zhou Jiping told reporters in Hong Kong.

He singled out Iraq's encouragement of overseas investors to help exploit the country's huge reserves. He also mentioned possible opportunities in Russia, Venezuela, Iraq and Qatar.

PetroChina already has oil and gas operations in more than 10 countries including Indonesia, Canada and Chad.

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China raises petrol, diesel prices: state media
Beijing (AFP) March 24, 2009
China will increase its benchmark retail prices of petrol and diesel as of midnight on Tuesday, state media said, reversing earlier cuts in the second fuel price adjustment this year.

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