Petronas’ quarterly profit jumps on higher oil prices

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Malaysian state energy firm Petroliam Nasional Berhad on Thursday forecast a rise in full-year profit for 2017, after posting a 64 percent jump in third-quarter profit on improved oil prices.

Petronas, as the company is known, said its profit after tax for the quarter ending September, rose to 10 billion ringgit ($2.44 billion), compared with 6.1 billion ringgit for the same period last year.

Revenue totalled 53.7 billion ringgit, up 14 percent from a year ago.

The revenue increase was due to higher prices for major products and a softer ringgit, but it was partially offset by lower sales volumes of crude oil and condensate, the company said in a statement.

Total production volume for the quarter was 2,206 thousand barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day, down from 2,227 tboe/day a year ago.

“Petronas expects the group’s overall year-end performance to be better than last year,” the company said in a statement, pointing to a modest recovery in oil prices and efficiency improvements.

Petronas Chief Executive Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin said the group remained committed to boosting efficiency across its operations.

“We intend to enhance our efforts to take advantage of the current recovery in oil prices for Petronas to close the year strongly,” he said.

Petronas, like other oil majors, has taken a hit from lower oil prices. Brent crude has fallen sharply since 2014, though it has somewhat recovered this year, trading near a two-year high on Thursday.

The firm has focused on cutting costs amid expectations that the low oil price environment will continue. Last year the company said it would cut spending by up to 50 billion ringgit over the next four years.

Petronas, Malaysia’s only Fortune 500 company, is a key contributor to government coffers. Its dividends last year accounted for 7.5 percent of total government revenue. It is one of the country’s largest employers with a workforce of over 50,000.