PetroChina (PTR.NYSE, 601857.SH, 0857.HK) ramped up production and expanded its overseas oil and gas business in the first quarter in order to meet rising domestic demand, Bloomberg reported. The company expects to boost output by 3% this year – and some analysts think it might be higher than that – as its global rivals forecast declines in output. PetroChina’s first-quarter net profit rose 71% to US$4.8 billion as crude output rose 2.1% and natural gas production climbed 17%. Oil prices have more than doubled from last year’s low in February and, should they remain at these levels, analysts expect PetroChina’s full-year profit to grow by about one third. The company has also gained from government-mandated increases in gasoline and diesel prices. Following the introduction of a mechanism in December 2008 that ties retail prices to crude oil costs, China has adjusted prices 10 times. The most recent change was a 4.6% price hike on April 14.
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