PetroChina's 2023 net income up 8.3% on strong fuel, gas sales

(Reuters) - PetroChina's net profit rose 8.3% last year off record levels in 2022, as strong growth in natural gas sales and its marketing segment offset lower realized oil prices.

PetroChina's net profit amounted to 161.1 billion yuan ($22.34 billion) in 2023, versus 148.7 billion in 2022, while revenue fell 7.0% to 3,239 billion yuan, the firm said in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Monday.

Operating profit for the natural gas segment more than tripled to 43.0 billion yuan from around 13.0 billion yuan, while operating profit in the marketing segment rose 66.7% on the previous year.

The average realized price for crude oil fell by 16.8% compared to 2022 levels.

The national energy giant produced 937.1 million barrels of crude oil last year, or 2.57 million barrels per day, up 3.4% over the previous year (906.2 mln bbl). Natural gas output was up 5.5% at 4,932.4 billion cubic feet (bcf).

Refinery crude throughput rose 15.3% to 1,398.8 million barrels, or 3.83 million barrels per day, reversing the previous year's 1% decline due to a strong recovery in gasoline and aviation fuel demand as China dropped pandemic curbs.

PetroChina recorded a 17.3% increase in domestic sales of gasoline, diesel and kerosene combined, with domestic kerosene sales surging by 82.1% on 2022.

The group's chemical new materials output increased 60.0% on last year.

The refining segment "seized the favorable opportunity of market recovery" and "improved the proportion of featured refined products and high-end chemical products," the statement said.

PetroChina forecasts this year's crude oil output to fall by 3% to 909.2 million barrels. Natural gas output is expected to increase by 4% to 5,142.6 bcf.

It also aimed for a 0.3% growth in refinery output this year.

An annual outlook released last month by a research arm of parent company CNPC showed China's aviation fuel consumption is likely to expand 13.1% this year on a surge in passenger travel, while diesel use may drop 1.8% amid broader economic headwinds.

Capital spending is planned at 258 billion yuan ($35.78 billion) for 2024, which would be 6.3% lower than the 275.3 billion spent last year.

While capital expenditure on the upstream segment is expected to fall, capex in the refining and marketing segments is forecast to increase significantly, by 177% and 49.8% respectively.

The group will "promote the refining and chemical business towards the middle and high-end of the industrial chain," with extra spending ear-marked to for the group's petrochemical subsidiaries in Jilin and Guangxi.

Higher spending in the marketing segment will be used to support the development of "integrated energy stations" offering EV charging and hydrogen fuel services, it added.

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