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Energy output gets a big boost

CHINA, the world's second-biggest energy user, boosted crude oil production by 2.3 percent in 2008 while natural-gas output gained 12 percent even as the economy expanded at the slowest pace in seven years.

Oil output rose to 189.7 million metric tons, the China Mainland Marketing Research Co, which compiles data for the National Bureau of Statistics in Beijing, said in a faxed statement yesterday. That compares with the 1.6-percent gain in 2007. Gas production reached 76 billion cubic meters last year.

"Crude production may continue to grow slightly, while gas output will have a relatively big increase this year given more discoveries," Bai Xuesong, a senior engineer at China International Chemical Consulting Corp, said by telephone with Bloomberg News from Beijing yesterday.

The economic slowdown may not diminish or interrupt production as new fields are being found, Bai said.

CNOOC Ltd, China's biggest offshore oil producer, aims to increase crude oil and natural gas output by as much as 18 percent this year as part of the company's long-term development.

China National Petroleum Corp, the country's largest oil company, boosted crude oil output to a record in 2008 as the nation stepped up production partly to build fuel reserves, the company said on December 31.

The economic slowdown did sap demand for energy imports last year. China raised crude oil imports at the slowest pace in three years with shipments rising 9.6 percent to 178.9 million tons in 2008, Customs data showed.


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