Asia’s refining giant China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (ADR) (NYSE:SNP), more commonly known as Sinopec, has recently released its quarterly results in which its profits increased by 24% due to a significant and much awaited turnaround of its refining business. The Chinese authorities have been keeping a lid on oil prices to curtail inflation, but they have been moving towards more market friendly fuel pricing policies, which will change the fortunes of Chinese refiners. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (ADR) (NYSE:SNP) and the Asian oil behemoth PetroChina Company Limited (ADR) (NYSE:PTR) have been incurring massive refining losses as they are required to sell their output at prices determined by the state. Sinopec gets more than 60% of its revenues from refining, while PetroChina gets 42%.
Sinopec’s refining margins increased considerably, as fuel prices have seen an overall increase in the last nine months (Beijing implemented two price cuts and increased prices three times in this period), while inflation has been at its lowest levels since 2010.
The company’s net profit for the quarter increased by 24.4% to $2.7 billion, as its total turnover went up by 3.6% to $112.8 billion.
China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (ADR) (NYSE:SNP) missed analysts’ estimates by $300 million, according to data provided by Bloomberg. The significant increase in income was primarily driven by the refining segment, which swung from a loss of $1.49 billion in the same quarter last year to a profit of $357.5 million. However, the company’s earnings in all other operating segments have dropped. The exploration and production segment, which makes the largest contribution to the bottom line, has reported a 17% decline in earnings to $2.63 billion. Similarly, income from Marketing & Distribution has fallen by 11.2% to $1.48 billion. The Chemicals segment has reported an enormous decline in income from $212 million to just $26.6 million.
During the quarter China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (ADR) (NYSE:SNP)’s refining arm processed 58.7 million metric tons of crude oil, which is an increase of 5.9% from last year. The operating costs in this segment increased from $3.06/barrel to $3.24/barrel, but the refining margins rose from just $0.61/barrel in Q1 2012 to an attractive $5.23/barrel in Q1 2013 as the unit finally became profitable. Light products and refining yields have dropped slightly from the year ago-quarter by 0.27 percentage points to 76.44% and 94.72%, respectively.
In the exploration and production segment, the business was able to increase its oil and gas output, but its effect was offset by the falling realized oil prices. The crude oil production increased slightly by 0.78% to 82.17 million barrels, while natural gas production increased by 13.98% to 163.20 billion cubic feet. Although the realized price of natural gas went up by 3.9% to $5.86/thousand cubic feet, the realized price of oil fell by 6.85% to $98.83/barrel.
On the other hand, PetroChina Company Limited (ADR) (NYSE:PTR)’s net income fell by 8.2% to $5.84 billion as its crude oil output climbed 1.8% to 231 million barrels; but average realized prices dropped 2.3% to $103.08 per barrel.