July 1 (Reuters) – Malaysia’s state oil firm Petronas [PETR.UL] said on Thursday net profit in the financial year ended March 2010 dropped 23.2 percent as high costs and lower energy prices hit the industry.
Malaysia’s average crude oil output fell 3.3 percent to 535,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the April-March period, it said.
“The year in review proved to be unusually difficult and challenging for the Petronas Group,” its CEO Shamsul Azhar Abbas told a results briefing.
“Profits experienced even more substantial declines as industry costs continued to remain at relatively elevated levels.”
Net profit fell to 40.3 billion ringgit ($12.43 billion), from 52.5 billion ringgit a year earlier.
Benchmark U.S. oil prices CLc1 averaged nearly $79 a barrel in the first quarter, recovering from a $43 average during the first quarter of 2009, but are still below a high of $147 hit during July 2008.
Petronas plans to list its petrochemical business before the end of the year, the company’s vice-president of finance, George Ratilal said.
Petronas is crucial to Malaysia’s economy as it provides almost half of the country’s budget revenue through dividends and taxes.
Petronas made 57.6 billion ringgit in payments to the Malaysian government in the 2010 financial year, 22 percent lower than the 74 billion ringgit paid in the previous financial year.
Shamsul, a former executive at Petronas’ shipping subsidiary MISC (MISC.KL), became the new chief executive in February, replacing Hassan Marican who built the firm into a Fortune 100 company. ($1=3.242 Malaysian Ringgit)
(Reporting by Saeed Azhar and Niluksi Koswanage; editing by Liau Y-Sing)