RELIANCE INDUSTRIES GAINS
A sharp recovery in margins at its core oil refining business helped Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries counteract continuing difficulties in its smaller oil and gas exploration division.
The boost in gross refining margins to $9.3 per barrel compared with $7.6 per barrel the quarter before, helped India's largest company by market capitalisation produce results broadly in line with expectations.
Reliance saw fourth-quarter net profits come in flat at Rs56.31bn ($933m), a 0.8 per cent rise from same period a year earlier. Analysts had been looking for a net profit of Rs56.62bn, according to Reuters data.
Mr Ambani, while describing the year as satisfying, said the "refining business delivered the highest ever profits with a sharp recovery in GRMs towards the end of the year".
However, the energy and petrochemicals-focused conglomerate's oil and gas division continued to underperform and recorded a steep drop in earnings from the previous quarter. The fall damped enthusiasm generated by the surprise increase in gross refining margins.
More broadly, the results come at a time of high political risk for Reliance and its oil and gas division in particular, with the company most recently issuing a legal notice against the authors of a book accusing the company of "crony capitalism" in relation to a large gasfield it operates with British oil group BP.
The move marked the latest controversy faced by Reliance relating to its gasfields off India's east coast, including a dispute over gas production levels that has seen Mr Ambani's company accused of excessive political influence by campaigners during the country's national election.
Allegations have circled around a planned increase in the regulated price of gas produced from Reliance's field, which India's election commission postponed last month until after the completion of voting in mid-May. The higher price would have provided a boost to Reliance.
A Mumbai based analyst speaking on condition of anonymity said that, "given Reliance's stronghold in Delhi they will get their way eventually but the timing and size of the hike remain uncertain".
Reliance shares have been performing well over the past month, up 8.2 per cent to Rs959.10, as hopes of an economic turnround under the resurgent opposition Bharatiya Janata party and presumptive next prime minister Narendra Modi, grow.
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AN - China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) is willing to invest $3 billion in its existing oil and gas operation in Nigeria, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said on Sunday following a meeting with the Chinese in Abuja.
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IMF - Output grew by 3.8 percent in 2017, underpinned by a resilient non-hydrocarbon sector, with robust implementation of GCC-funded projects as well as strong activity in the financial, hospitality, and education sectors. The banking system remains stable with large capital buffers. Growth is projected to decelerate over the medium term.
IMF - Higher oil prices and short-term portfolio inflows have provided relief from external and fiscal pressures but the recovery remains challenging. Inflation declined to its lowest level in more than two years. Real GDP expanded by 2 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the first quarter of last year. However, activity in the non-oil non-agricultural sector remains weak as lower purchasing power weighs on consumer demand and as credit risk continues to limit bank lending.