Vietnam exported 559,723 mt of crude oil in January, down 23.7% from a year ago and also down 17.8% from December, according to data released Thursday by Vietnam Customs.
The crude export value in January was $504 million, down 23.9% from the same month in 2013 and down 17.4% compared with December last year.
Vietnam produced an estimated 1.2 million mt of crude oil in January, down 5% from a year ago and 3.8% lower than December 2013, the General Statistics Office said late January. Natural gas output last month was estimated at 867 million cubic meters, down 7.7% year on year and down 4.7% from December.
The country's oil and gas production in January was partly affected by the Lunar New Year holiday, which was celebrated over January 28-February 5 in Vietnam, the GSO said.
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In January, Vietnam mainly exported its crude oil to Australia (164,621 mt or 29.4% of the total), Japan (159,985 mt or 28.6%) and Malaysia (78,328 mt or 14%), according to customs data. GOVERNMENT PUSHES FOR MORE OUTPUT
Increasing oil and gas production is a special focus for Vietnam's government this year. The government has asked state-owned PetroVietnam to focus only on its core activities from 2014, with oil and gas exploration and production being the top priority, Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang said in a meeting with senior PetroVietnam officials on Monday.
He has asked PetroVietnam to pay special attention to oil and gas cooperation with Russia and other former Soviet Union nations, PetroVietnam said in a statement earlier this week.
Part of Vietnam's crude oil output is consumed by its sole 130,000 b/d Dung Quat refinery in the central province of Quang Ngai, while the rest is exported.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung told PetroVietnam last month to start production from the Ca Voi Xanh gas field as soon as possible and speed up construction of a 5,000 MW of gas-fired power plant project in the central region which will use gas from the field.
The construction of the gas-fired power plant is to compensate for a possible shortfall of around 4,000 MW of power generation capacity if construction of the Ninh Thuan nuclear power projects is delayed to 2020 due to safety concerns, according to the prime minister's statement.
PetroVietnam, through its gas arm PV Gas, supplies natural gas to meet over 40% of Vietnam's electricity consumption and 70% of demand from the fertilizer industry.
OIL PRODUCT IMPORTS RISE FOR 2ND STRAIGHT MONTH
Meanwhile, Vietnam's oil products imports in January rose for a second consecutive month on a year-on-year basis, after a rare increase in December last year.
The country imported 791,098 mt of oil products in January, up 61% from a year ago and up 15.2% from December 2013, according to the customs data.
Of the January total, Vietnam imported 225,589 mt of gasoline, up 57% year on year; 393,570 mt of diesel, up 83%; 88,894 mt of fuel oil, nearly double year on year.
The rise in the country's oil products imports last month and in December last year came as Vietnam's domestic output of oil products is expected to fall this year.
PetroVietnam said last month that it aims to produce 4.6 million mt of oil products in 2014, down 30% from 2013, largely due to a planned maintenance at the Dung Quat refinery over May 19-July 9.
The value of oil product imports in January was $738 million, up 54% year on year and up 10.5% from December 2013.
Vietnam's leading oil product suppliers in January included Singapore (266,693 mt or 33.7% of the total), Taiwan (155,267 mt or 19.6%) and South Korea (149,738 mt or 18.9%).
Vietnam did not import any crude for its Dung Quat refinery in January.
--Dao Dang Toan, email@example.com
--Edited by Deepa Vijiyasingam, firstname.lastname@example.org