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Offshore Oil Producer Raking in Cash
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The nation's top offshore oil producer, China National Offshore Oil Corp Limited (CNOOC), said on Friday its 2005 profit rose 57 percent on the previous year.


It also said production witnessed a 14 percent increase in the same period.


The company's net income hit a historical high of 25.3 billion yuan (US$3.1 billion), from 16.1 billion yuan (US$1.99 billion) a year earlier, the Beijing-based oil producer said.


That was below the 27.08 billion yuan (US$3.34 billion) that analysts polled by Thomson Financial had expected earnings to total.


Industry analysts contributed the company's robust growth to China's fast-growing economy that has boosted energy demand as well as the world's surging prices for crude oil.


Crude oil prices reached a record high of US$70.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on August 30 last year. Prices of oil for May delivery rose by as much as 17 percent compared with the level a year ago.


The company sold its oil at a price 33.6 percent higher than the previous year, it said.


"The results are in line with my predictions, mainly boosted by the high oil prices and CNOOC's growing production to meet surging demand," an analyst surnamed Liu with Guotai Jun'an Securities said.


The company's net production, which included oil and gas, last year amounted to 154.8 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe), a year-on-year increase of 10.6 percent, while its revenue rose by as much as 45 percent to 69.5 billion yuan (US$8.6 billion) as prices remained bullish.


CNOOC last year found 14 oil and gas discoveries in the Bohai Bay, East China Sea and South China Sea, increasing its proven reserves by 288 million boe to reach 236 billion boe, the firm said.


Shares of CNOOC, up by 21 percent so far this year, closed unchanged at HK$6.35 (81.4 US cents) on the HK Stock Exchange on Friday.


"The company has considerably enhanced its production, reserves and net profit," said Fu Chengyu, president of the State-owned oil producer.


Several big domestic oil fields are also expected to start producing in the near future, the company added.


The company has tapped increased earnings to make overseas acquisitions that have substantially increased its reserves and productivity.


CNOOC this year bought Nigerian fields and agreed to explore off Equatorial Guinea after US lawmakers snuffed the company's US$18.5 billion bid for Unocal Corp.


Media sources this week reported that the company has agreed with Indonesia to increase the price of its LNG (liquefied natural gas) sales from the BP-led Tangguh project in Papua. Both sides have reached an accord on the price of LNG sold to CNOOC's LNG terminal in east China's Fujian Province, Kardaya Warnika, chairman of Jakarta-based oil and gas watchdog BPMIGAS was quoted as saying.


(China Daily March 25, 2006)


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