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Nippon Oil Corp. announced Tuesday its largest wholesale price increase in 14 years for gasoline and other petroleum products for April.

The nation’s biggest oil refiner said it would raise the wholesale price for April by 5.1 yen per liter from the current month, the largest increase since an 8 yen increase in October 1990 during the Persian Gulf crisis. The latest increase, due to a sharp rise in crude oil prices, follows a 3.3 yen increase for March.

Other Japanese oil refiners are expected to follow suit and lift their respective wholesale prices by around 5 yen per liter, industry sources said.

Cosmo Oil Co., Japan Energy Corp. and Idemitsu Kosan Co. separately announced later the same day that they would increase wholesale prices by margins ranging between 4.8 yen and 4.9 yen per liter.

The Oil Information Center said Japan’s average retail price for regular gasoline in March rose 1 yen per liter from the previous month to 117 yen, the first rise in four months.

China spurs expansion

Nippon Oil Corp. said Tuesday it has agreed to expand its oil refining service for PetroChina Co. in response to fast-growing demand for petroleum products in China.

Under a new contract with China Oil, an affiliate of state-run PetroChina, Nippon Oil will refine 30,000 barrels a day for one year to next March, up from 20,000 barrels under an earlier agreement signed last July, it said.

China Oil will provide crude oil for refining at six Nippon Oil refineries in Japan and carry petroleum products back to China, the Japanese firm said.

The refining service will cover about 3 percent of Nippon Oil’s total refining capacity.

Demand in China has been increasing rapidly for fuel oil to generate power and for gasoline to run automobiles, Nippon Oil said.

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