Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical - China's largest maker of ethylene, a key plastics raw material - last year boosted net profit to 916.36 million yuan (about HK$860.28 million). It was 689 per cent better than the 116.04 million yuan in 2001. After 2001's weak demand, high crude costs and keen competition from its domestic and foreign rivals, the H share last year capitalised on increased demand and cheaper crude costs. The sharp year-on-year contrast was due to higher refining margins - the difference between crude costs and product prices. The operating profit margin rose to 6.4 per cent last year, from 1.9 per cent in 2001. The diversified petrochemicals producer - a subsidiary of Asia's largest crude oil refiner China Petrochemical & Chemical (Sinopec) - also makes acrylic fibres, resins, plastics, petrol and diesel. The profit was still a far cry from the record 2.12 billion yuan in 1995, and the 1.49 billion yuan in 1994. The company gained from a 6.5 billion yuan capacity expansion which raised its annual ethylene output to 850,000 tonnes from 400,000 tonnes and cut energy consumption by about 15 per cent. Its polyethylene, polypropylene and acrylic fibre capacity also rose. The expansion helped lift turnover a year on year 10.55 per cent, to 22.32 billion yuan. A dividend of five fen compared with none last year.