BEIJING China's Sinopec Corp will produce lower sulfur gasoline from October, three months ahead of an official mandate, as part of a national effort to clear up the smoggy air of Chinese cities.
Except for two subsidiary plants that are undergoing maintenance, the top Asian refiner will cut sulfur in all its gasoline production from 150 parts per million (ppm) to 50 ppm from October 1, a company official said.
The new standard, national IV, is similar to Euro IV.
China, the world's second-largest oil consumer that burns roughly two million barrels per day of gasoline, rolled out in 2011 the national IV standard for gasoline and set a January 2014 deadline to make it applicable nationally.
Despite slowing economic growth, Chinese demand for gasoline has expanded much faster than diesel this year, thanks to strong growth in car sales.
Subsidiary plants in Fujian and Hainan will move to the new grade in November after overhauls, the company official said.
Sinopec will also start to provide National V gasoline, of 10 ppm sulfur or less, in 15 major cities such as Shanghai, Nanjing and Guangzhou from October. Capital city Beijing was the first to use grade V in May 2012.
The company has from end of May cut the sulfur content of all of its diesel production to a maximum 350 ppm. Emissions from lower-quality diesel are among the main culprits for urban air pollution.
($1 = 6.1199 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting By Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)