Despite increased sales, downstream company Esso Malaysia Bhd reported a second quarter loss of RM11.48 million as a result of the recent steep rise in crude oil prices. This represented a sharp swing from a net profit of RM73.41million a year earlier. (US$1=RM3.8).

Esso Malaysia, which operates a chain of fuel stations, said its marketing margins were affected by higher crude and product costs.

“In contrast, the 2003 results benefited from favourable price lag effects in a period of declining crude and product costs,” it said. Second quarter sales rose to RM1.47 billion from RM1.15 billion a year earlier.

The company added: “The Port Dickson refinery processed 82,000 barrels of crude per day in the first half of 2004, reflecting high plant reliability and utilisation. This represents a 9% increase in throughput from the same period last year.”

For the future, Esso Malaysia said strong domestic economic growth will sustain robust demand for its products, but its overall performance will continue to be affected by the crude and product price movements. Given this uncertain business environment, the company plans to continue focusing on effective and efficient management of its operations.