PetroChina profit boosted by stronger gas sales and fuel demand

(Reuters) - China's top energy producer PetroChina posted a 4.7% rise in first-quarter net income helped by growth in natural gas and a recovery in fuel demand.

Net profit attributable to shareholders rose to 45.68 billion yuan ($6.30 billion) from 43.6 billion a year earlier, a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange showed.

Revenue rose 10.9% at 812 billion yuan.

Domestic peer CNOOC Ltd posted a record quarterly profit on strong output growth while refining giant Sinopec Corp posted a 8.9% fall in income as a weak petrochemicals business weighed despite stronger fuel sales.

PetroChina said its total crude oil output increased 1.4% to 239.6 million barrels while gas output rose 3.9% to 1,345 billion cubic feet.

Between January and March China's second-largest refiner processed 353.8 million barrels of crude, or 3.89 million barrels per day, up 8.2% from a year earlier when the country was emerging from COVID lockdowns that had hammered domestic fuel demand.

In the first quarter domestic fuel demand saw support from a surge in travel over the Lunar New Year holiday in February.

Total sales volumes of gasoline, kerosene and diesel grew 4.5% to 39.3 million metric tons, with aviation fuel posting 36% growth followed by gasoline up 8.2%.

Diesel sales fell 5.5%.

PetroChina said its refining margins narrowed but its chemical business improved due to higher output.

With sales up 14% at 83.4 billion cubic meters and lower costs for imports, its natural gas marketing division recorded a 21.5% rise in operating profit to 12.3 billion yuan.

Capex for the quarter was up 10% to 55.97 billion yuan.

An annual outlook released last month by a research arm of parent company China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) showed China's aviation fuel consumption is likely to expand by 13.1% this year on a surge in passenger travel, while diesel use may drop 1.8% amid broader economic headwinds.

PetroChina's Hong Kong listed shares closed down 3.2% on Monday before the earning results. They have rallied 41% this year, outperforming the Hang Seng index which has gained 4.1%.

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