Malaysia Petronas 1Q Net Profit MYR19.35 Billion Vs MYR12.32 Billion

By Jason Ng, Dow Jones Newswires

KUALA LUMPUR -(Dow Jones)- Malaysia’s state-owned oil-and-gas firm Petroliam Nasional Bhd. Friday reported a 57% rise in its first-quarter net profit, but said growth is likely to slow from the second quarter, and may continue to be sluggish going into 2012.

Malaysia’s only Fortune 500 company and the country’s most profitable firm, also known as Petronas, said net profit for the quarter ended June 30 rose to MYR19.35 billion, compared with MYR12.32 billion in the year-earlier period. Revenue was higher at MYR72.97 billion from MYR58.56 billion.

Petronas President and Chief Executive Shamsul Azhar Abbas said higher product prices across the board helped the performance. Net profit was also boosted by a one-time gain of MYR2.60 billion from a stake sale in Cairn India Ltd. (532792.BY). In April, Petronas exited Cairn India, selling its entire 14.94% stake in the oil-and-gas explorer for about $2.1 billion.

“Based on July numbers, we are definitely moving towards a slowdown in the second quarter which will continue into next year,” Shamsul told reporters at an earnings conference.

Shamsul said the company realized an average weighted crude oil price of $ 122.26 a barrel compared with $76.14 a barrel during the January-March period. However, he cautioned that any slowdown in the U.S. and Europe will likely cause demand destruction and lead to lower product prices.

“Our main worry is the demand destruction” due to economic slowdown in US and Europe, he added.

Petronas projects an average crude oil price of $80-$85 a barrel into 2012 based on fundamentals, Shamsul said.

Shamsul also said the company will be open to acquiring more discovered oil- and-gas assets, as well as unconventional assets, globally.

In June, Petronas bought half of Progress Energy Resources Corp.’s (PRQ.T) certain shale assets in northeastern British Columbia for $1.10 billion.

Shamsul earlier said that Petronas will be also open to buying more shale assets.

Petronas plans to partner U.S.-based Hess Corp. (HES ) in the MYR15.00 billionNorth Malay Basin project that it announced earlier this week. The project is to develop a marginal gas field off peninsular Malaysia to cater to growing domestic demand.