PetroChina Company Limited (SEHK 0857; NYSE PTR) reported a net profit of RMB45.29 billion for the first half of 2004, up 17.3% from the same period last year. (US$1=RMB8.27). Turnover grew 21.4% to RMB179.55 billion.

The company said the results were its best since listing in the late 1990s.

Basic earnings per share were RMB0.26, representing an increase of approximately RMB0.04 over the same period last year.

In a statement, PetroChina said: “By leveraging on the high oil prices and strong market demand for oil and petrochemical products, the company achieved continued rapid growth of operating results through optimising production organisation and enhancing management of operation. Oil and gas exploration realised important achievements and showed good prospects. Crude oil output increased steadily, the growth of the natural gas business further accelerated.

“Processed crude oil volume and refined products and chemicals output noted remarkable growth, and major technological and economic indicators hit a record high. Marketing efforts were reinforced, and the sales volume grew with profit.

The construction of key pipelines was fast and smooth progress was made.”

The company has recommended an interim dividend of approximately RMB 0.115 per share for 2004.

It said that all the four business segments continued to record profit, with exploration and production still the most profitable.

The refining, chemicals and marketing businesses also performed well.

Profit from operations for the exploration and production rose by 4.8% to RMB52.7 billion, thanks largely to rising oil prices and higher sales volume.

PetroChina said its total output of oil and gas amounted to 456 million barrels of oil equivalent, representing an increase of 2.7% over the first half of 2003.

Domestically, it produced 388 million barrels of crude oil and 410.3 billion cubic feet of marketable natural gas, up 0.5% and 17.4% respectively from last year.

Its overseas equity oil and gas output came to 3.88 million barrels of oil equivalent (+35.2%). A total of 366 million barrels of crude oil and 381 billion cubic feet of natural gas were sold during the period.

In the first half of 2004, its refining and marketing reported a 192.7% rise in profit to RMB8.978 billion. The growth was attributed to an increase in sales volume and a rise in oil prices.
PetroChina said its refineries processed 347 million barrels of crude oil, representing an increase of 16.9%. It added 1,446 service stations to 16,677.

The chemicals and marketing business reported profits of RMB1.953 billion, up 201.4% from the same period last year.

PetroChina was established as a joint stock company with limited liability under China’s Company Law on November 5, 1999 as part of the restructuring of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). In the restructuring, CNPC transferred to PetroChina most of the assets and liabilities of CNPC relating to its exploration and production, refining and marketing, chemicals and marketing and natural gas and pipeline businesses.