HONG KONG: China’s top offshore oil and gas producer, CNOOC Ltd, reported yesterday a 16% rise in net profit for 2002 as production surged.
CNOOC also unexpectedly proposed a special dividend of 15 HK cents per share on top of its final dividend of 15 cents, following higher dividend payout ratios by two larger rivals.
“The special dividend is a surprise. CNOOC is trying to match the high dividend policy of the other two,” said Eva Chu, analyst at BNP Paribas Peregrine.
Peers PetroChina Ltd and Sinopec Corp had dividend payout ratios of between 40% and 50% while CNOOC’s stood at about 26% in 2001, she said. Including the special dividend, CNOOC’s 2002 dividend payout ratio rose to 38%.
Many Hong Kong–listed companies have boosted their dividend payouts in the current earnings season to attract investors who have been disillusioned by the long decline in equity markets.
CNOOC reported a net profit of 9.23 billion yuan (US$1.1bil) for 2002, compared with 7.96 billion yuan in 2001. Turnover rose to 26.37 billion yuan in 2002 from 20.82 billion yuan the prior year.
The company had set an output target of 125 million to130 million barrels of oil equivalent for 2002, partly fuelled by production from Indonesian assets it acquired last year. It pumped 95 million barrels in 2001, and expects to produce 134 million to 138 million barrels in 2003.
The most aggressive acquirer among China’s cash-rich oil majors, CNOOC recently invested US$615mil in an oil and gas project in Kazakhstan. That deal followed the company's purchase nearly a year ago of the Indonesian assets of Spanish oil major Repsol-YPF for US$585mil – part of a US$1.1bil acquisition spree.
China wants to ease its reliance on oil from the Middle East, which currently provides more than half of its imports. – Reuters
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