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CNOOC profits surge
( 2003-09-05 10:15) (Shanghai Daily)

Cnooc Ltd, China's largest offshore oil and gas producer, said first-half profit rose 75 percent to a record because it produced more barrels of oil and sold them at higher prices.

Net income rose to 6.3 billion yuan (US$761 million) from 3.62 billion yuan a year earlier, the company said in a statement. That's at the top end of the 5.9 billion yuan to 6.3 billion yuan range of estimates of four analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Sales rose 68 percent to 17.9 billion yuan.

"Gas business development and exploration successes are putting the company on the right track to achieving growth," said Chairman Wei Liucheng in a statement. The oil producer proposed paying a dividend of 14 Hong Kong cents (1.79 US cents) a share and a special dividend of 18 Hong Kong cents a share.

Wei is trying to ensure earnings will keep growing by buying oil wells and building natural-gas processing and distribution businesses to meet China's growing demand for cleaner-burning fuels. CNOOC is looking to meet its annual output growth target of 15 percent by acquiring assets in Asia.

Cnooc shares have risen 40 percent this year, the 10th-best performer on the 33-member Hang Seng Index, on optimism China's 8 percent economic growth rate will bolster its oil and gas sales, and after crude-oil prices increased on average 31 percent in New York in the first half.

The company said daily oil and gas output in the first half averaged 352,780 barrels of oil equivalent, 15 percent more than the same period a year earlier. It spent 764 million yuan finding oil and gas. The company's development costs rose 75 percent to 3.4 billion yuan, it said in the statement.

It cost CNOOC US$8.81 to produce a barrel of oil offshore in China, the company said.

Cnooc's wei forecast that OPEC's oil price will average about US$25 a barrel in the second half of the year.

On tuesday, an index of oil prices known as the OPEC basket fell below US$28 a barrel for the first time since August 19.

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