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Slower fall in Sinopec fuel sales

TOP Asian oil refiner Sinopec Corp posted a slower decline in fuel sales in the second quarter as demand seemed to bottom out amid a recovering economy.

Its domestic sales of refined oil products fell 4.6 percent to 31.3 million tons in the second quarter, according to calculations based on its first-half operational data released yesterday. Sales had slumped 12 percent to 26.4 million tons in the previous quarter.

"The significant quarter-on-quarter improvement is mainly because of the quicker pace of recovery in the economy," BOC International analyst Tang Qian said.

China's economy expanded 7.9 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier as the government's 4 trillion yuan (US$585 billion) stimulus package began to have a boost on the economy. The economy rose 6.1 percent in the first quarter, the slowest pace in almost a decade.

Gasoline production surged 21 percent to 16.99 million tons while diesel output declined 5.4 percent to 32.4 million tons in the first half, said Sinopec, which supplies about half of China's fuel market.

That's because the company increased the portion of gasoline in its product mix given the nation's strong car sales, Tang said. Diesel, which is used to power many export-oriented industries, had been hard hit but the sector also appears to have bottomed out.

Refinery throughput gained almost 10 percent in the second quarter after it recovered from a 3.27 percent fall in the first quarter, according to Sinopec. Natural gas output fell 1.1 percent to 142.5 billion cubic feet in the first half while crude oil output rose 1.2 percent to 149.1 million barrels, the firm said.


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