PetroChina Co, the nation's biggest oil company, said first-quarter crude output was almost unchanged, as production at China's largest field was curbed to extend its life. Natural gas output jumped 36 per cent.
Oil production rose to 207.7 million barrels from 207.6 million barrels, a gain of just 0.04 per cent from a year earlier.
Natural gas output increased to 360.2 billion cubic feet from 265.7 billion cubic feet, the Beijing-based company said in a statement on its Website yesterday.
PetroChina has slowed oil production growth since the record quarterly increase of 3.6 per cent set a year ago, to manage its reserves.
The amount of oil left to pump from the Daqing field, the nation's biggest and oldest, is dwindling, prompting the company to expand its search for oil overseas to match demand in the world's fastest-growing major economy.
"It's hard for PetroChina to have a rapid increase in oil output," said Scott Weaver, an oil and chemicals analyst at Macquarie Securities Ltd in Taipei.
"The expectation is for them to keep oil output from declining and to have a slight increase."
The company sold its crude oil for 47 per cent more than a year earlier, securing an average price of US$55.14 a barrel in the first quarter, the company said.
Its gas sold for 23 per cent more, the price rising to US$2.43 a thousand cubic feet.
Output of oil and gas rose 6.3 per cent to the equivalent of 267.7 million barrels of oil during the first three months.
PetroChina's natural gas production is rising as China encourages the use of the fuel as a cleaner burning alternative to oil and coal, which is used to produce two-thirds of the nation's power.
"PetroChina maintained stable crude oil production and rapid growth in natural gas output upon careful and systematic planning," the company said in a statement.
Unusually severe snow storms at some oilfields slowed production, it said.
In the first quarter, PetroChina added 11.7 million barrels of oil output and 9.79 billion cubic feet of natural gas production from shared production overseas, according to the statement.
PetroChina in the first quarter completed welding 392 kilometres (244 miles) of the 475-kilometre Huaiyang-Wuhan gas pipeline, a link to its West-East pipeline that transports gas 4,000 kilometres from Xinjiang in the northwest to the commercial centre of Shanghai in the east.
PetroChina's oil pipeline linking Alashankou on the China-Kazakhstan border with Dushanzi, a refining and petrochemical production hub in Xinjiang province, is "poised for full operation," it said.
The pipeline will carry Kazakh oil pumped from the city of Atasu in the central Asian republic.
The company processed 196.8 million barrels of oil into fuels in the first quarter, an increase of 2.7 per cent.
Gasoline output rose 1.8 per cent to 5.7 million metric tons and the company sold the fuel at an average price of US$472.76 a ton, a gain of 24 per cent.
Diesel output during the three months gained 3.5 per cent to 11.1 million tons and the average realized price was US$469.64 a ton, an increase of 31 per cent from a year earlier.
PetroChina produced 494,000 tons of kerosene in the quarter, an increase of 3.8 per cent from a year earlier, the company said.
(China Daily 04/18/2006 page11)