China again suspends oil price adjustment

Beijing, Feb 15 (IANS) China’s top economic planner will not adjust domestic retail oil prices as global prices stayed below an official price floor introduced in January, it announced on Monday.

Under the current mechanism, prices of refined oil products are adjusted when crude prices translate into a change of more than 50 yuan (over $7.5) per tonne for gasoline and diesel prices for a period of 10 working days.

However, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced in January that China will not cut its fuel prices when international oil prices fall below $40 a barrel, which immediately triggered a suspension on January 27.

The floor aims to buffer the negative effects of price swings, the NDRC said.

Global oil prices have experienced sharp changes since the second half of 2014. Brent has dropped to around $33 on Monday, while WTI was only slightly higher than $29.

The NDRC is closely watching the operation of the current pricing mechanism and will continue to improve it based on market changes, according to an NDRC notice.

Despite the economic slowdown, China remains a major oil importer and consumer, importing nearly 60 percent of what it uses. Its crude oil imports rose 8.8 percent from the previous year to 336 million tonnes in 2015.

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