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PetroChina rewards investors with full profit payout on oil rise

[HONG KONG] PetroChina Co plans to payout its entire half-year net income to shareholders as the country's biggest oil and gas producer benefited from higher global crude prices.

The Beijing-based company is rewarding shareholders profits of almost 12.7 billion yuan (S$2.6 billion), up from 531 million yuan a year ago, it said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange Thursday. Interim and special dividends totaled more than 0.069 yuan per share, nearly triple the forecast for almost 0.025 yuan for the period. Profit compares with an expected 10.6 billion yuan profit based on the average of three estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Earnings by explorers including Western majors Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp improved as global oil prices in the first half of the year averaged about 30 per cent higher than a year ago, near US$53 a barrel. While that increase has stabilised profits at China's state-run producers it hasn't proved high enough to reverse declines in the country's crude fields while their focused has shifted toward natural gas to meet the rising domestic demand.

China's oil output fell about 5 per cent in the first half of this year putting it on course to produce the least amount of crude since 2009 and increasing its reliance on imported supplies. Natural gas output in the same period rose 8 per cent to 74.1 billion cubic metres amid a push by President Xi Jinping's government to burn cleaner fuels.

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China National Petroleum Corp, PetroChina's parent, said last month that oil and gas output from its Changqing field, the nation's biggest, reached 26.47 million tons in the first half, about 53 per cent of the annual target. CNPC's Daqing unit said domestic crude output during the period rose 6.1 per cent from a year ago, while gas production rose almost 9 per cent.

Lifting costs, or the production cost for each barrel of oil equivalent, fell 4.2 per cent to US$11.32.

PetroChina's oil and gas output fell 3 per cent to 725.7 million barrels of oil equivalent, the company said in its statement. Global crude production declined 7.4 per cent to 435.8 million barrels, while gas output climbed 4.4 per cent to almost 1,739 billion cubic feet.

Shares fell 0.8 per cent to HK$4.82 in Hong Kong on Thursday before the statement was published. That compares with a 0.4 per cent gain in the city's benchmark Hang Seng Index.