KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's state oil firm Petronas said on Tuesday profits in the first half of fiscal year 2010 nearly halved as the global recession hit demand and crude oil prices tumbled from year-ago levels.
Petronas' crude oil output in the country has continued to fall, down to 450,400 barrels per day (bpd) in the April-September period this year, from 485,400 bpd by the earlier fiscal year ending March 2009, it said.
The decrease in revenue for HY 2009 was mainly due to the overall decrease in product prices and lower sales volume, Petronas said in a statement.
(But revenues) were partly mitigated by the weakening of the ringgit against the U.S. dollar.
Oil firms such as Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) have suffered from severely reduced earnings due to weaker crude oil prices.
Analysts say though crude prices CLc1 have risen to $74 barrel from a low of less than $33 in December, they are still way below a high of more than $147 touched in July last year.
Unlisted Petronas' profit for April-September 2009 stood at 20.3 billion ringgit ($5.98 billion) versus 38.6 billion ringgit in the same period a year ago. Revenues dropped 37.5 percent to 98.2 billion ringgit from 157.2 billion ringgit.
Petronas is also battling with slowing production at home, especially on the continental shelf of Malaysia as ageing fields took their toll after years of steady output. Production is higher in the offshore Borneo island.
The firm has looked overseas for future growth but with lower crude oil prices, capital expenditure internationally in first half of the fiscal 2010 dived 55.5 percent to 5.5 billion ringgit compared to the same period a year ago.
Petronas's overall global energy output has also slowed in Africa and the Middle East due to the worldwide economic fallout.
By second-half September, the company's total oil and gas production was 1.726 million bpd compared to 1.796 million bpd for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008.
The decrease in gas production in Africa... (was) driven by decrease in gas demand from domestic buyers in Egypt as well as decline in baseline production rate and higher water cuts in Chad, the firm said.
Petronas said overall output declines were offset slightly by rising production in Oceania as well as higher gas output in Southeast Asia driven by Indonesia and Myanmar.
(Oceania production) was driven by improvements in field gas processing facility and water handling capabilities in Australia, allowing more wells to be connected and allowing increased production, the firm said. ($1=3.395 Malaysian Ringgit) (Reporting by Niluksi Koswanage; Editing by Ramthan Hussain)