China's Sinopec posts best quarterly earnings in nearly 3 years

BEIJING, April 26 (Reuters) - China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (Sinopec) reported its best quarterly profit since June 2015 on strong earnings from its refining department and firmer crude oil prices.

Net profit at Asia’s largest refiner grew 12.3 percent in the first three months versus the same year-go period to 19.31 billion yuan ($3.05 billion).

This was up from 12.75 billion yuan in the fourth quarter when losses from operating its gas business crimped earnings, the company said in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Thursday.

Sinopec’s total revenue rose to 621.3 billion yuan in the January to March period, up 6.7 percent from the year earlier period.

Higher processing margins have benefited both state-owned and private refiners and pushed the country’s refinery throughput to record high in March.

Sinopec’s refinery throughput gained 2.1 percent from the first quarter last year at 60.16 million tonnes, or about 4.88 million barrels per day (bpd).

The company might rake in less revenue from its refining business in the second quarter as its largest subsidiary plant Zhenhai is slated for a major overhaul from May.

Sinopec reported realized natural gas prices at $6.28 per thousand cubic feet, up 25.6 percent from a year earlier.

Realised crude oil prices were $59.8 a barrel, up 22 percent from a year earlier. The firm produced 71.35 million barrels of crude oil during the period, down one percent on year.

Its natural gas production inched up 0.6 percent to 239.83 billion cubic feet. ($1 = 6.3230 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Meng Meng and Aizhu Chen Editing by Keith Weir)