China Petroleum & Chemical Corp swung to a first-quarter profit from a loss a year earlier, with net income reaching 18.54 billion yuan ($2.86 billion), amid a recovery in global oil prices and robust demand for refined oil products.
Asia's top oil refiner, also known as Sinopec, posted a 19.15 billion yuan loss during the same period last year under international accounting standards, as the coronavirus pandemic hammered fuel consumption.
Its crude oil throughput surged 16.3% from a low-base last year to 62.52 million tonnes, equivalent to 5.07 million barrels per day, as China's fuel demand returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Sales of refined products increased 6.8% year-on-year.
"The company has been dynamically adjusting refined oil product exports in accordance with market changes, and maintaining stable and high operational rates of refining facilities," said Sinopec in a statement filed to Shanghai Stock Exchange.
It raised output of gasoline and low-sulphur marine oil by 25.7% and 187%, respectively, from the same period last year.
Sinopec churned out 68.41 million barrels of crude oil in the quarter, down 3.2% on the year, while natural gas output surged 16.8% to 291.6 billion cubic feet.
Capital expenditure came in at 23 billion yuan, compared with 13.2 billion yuan during the same period last year.
The firm invested 9 billion yuan in upstream exploration sectors, including natural gas capacity construction at the Fuling and Rongwei fields, as well as liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal expansion projects at Tianjin and Shandong.
Sinopec has said it expects to raise 2021 spending by 23.8% to 167.2 billion yuan.
In a separate statement, the company said it had approved a 29.95 billion yuan investment in an upgrade at its Maoming refinery.
($1 = 6.4836 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Muyu Xu and Chen Aizhu. Editing by Mark Potter)