MUMBAI: India’s largest private firm Reliance Industries reported yesterday a surprise 24 percent rise in quarterly net profit as higher refining margins offset slowing output from offshore fields.
Reliance, controlled by India’s wealthiest man Mukesh Ambani, said net profit for the financial third quarter jumped to 55.02 billion rupees ($1.02bn), from `44.4bn in the same period a year earlier. Turnover climbed 10 percent to `963bn for the quarter, a statement said.
The earnings overshot analysts’ expectations of a 50-billion-rupee profit and snapped four consecutive quarters of declines.
“Our performance improved this quarter with margin expansion in petrochemicals and record earnings in the refining business,” Ambani said.
Analysts have been concerned in recent months about Reliance’s ability to raise gas production from its blocks off India’s east coast.
In the first nine months of the fiscal year from April to December, crude oil production from Reliance’s main oilfield KG-D6 slid 40 percent year-on-year to 2.3 million barrels.
Natural gas production tumbled 37 percent to 275 billion cubic feet from April to December over levels a year earlier. “This reduction was due to reservoir complexity and natural decline,” the company said.
But countering the output decline, gross refining margins rose in the third quarter to $9.60 a barrel from $6.80 a year earlier.
In 2011, British energy giant BP paid $7.2bn to acquire a 30 percent stake in 21 of Reliance’s oil and gas fields. Reliance hopes that BP’s deepwater drilling expertise will give it skills to develop hard-to-exploit reserves and find more oil. AFPs