PetroChina posts $2.3 billion net loss as demand collapses

BEIJING/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - PetroChina on Wednesday slumped to a first-quarter net loss hurt by plunging oil prices and tepid refined fuel demand while its oil and gas output rose.

FILE PHOTO: A gas station attendant pumps fuel into a customer's car at PetroChina's petrol station in Beijing, China, March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The state-controlled energy giant reported a net loss in the January-March quarter of 16.23 billion yuan ($2.29 billion) versus a profit of 10.249 billion a year earlier.

Revenue fell 14.4% to 509.098 billion yuan, the firm said in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Crude oil production rose 4.2% to 232.7 million barrels and natural gas output rose 8.7% to 1,086.9 billion cubic feet, it said.

“The increase in output was driven by new oil and gas capacity built in 2019. The production and sales plans for the first quarter were set in advance and lagged behind in term of adjustment,” the company said.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic and record-low oil prices, PetroChina has said it will aim to “dynamically optimise” and adjust spending this year from a previously planned 295 billion yuan.

PetroChina did not reveal the details of its cost cutting plan.

Its exploration and production business recorded a 14.883 billion yuan operating profit in the first quarter, up 3.9% and helped by an 8.9% cut in operational costs.

Its crude oil throughput fell by 9.6% to 276.5 million barrels, or 3.04 million barrels per day, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sales of refined oil products, including gasoline, diesel and kerosene, fell 15.9% to 3,547.8 tonnes, cutting its profit by 20.11 billion yuan.

It saw a net loss of about 3.933 billion yuan on its natural gas import business, which includes piped and liquefied natural gas, as the virus outbreak curbed demand from industrial users.

PetroChina had cancelled some gas contracts with suppliers from central Asia, Qatar and Australia, and reduced gas imports from Russia.

Reporting by Muyu Xu in Beijing and Chen Aizhu in Singapore; editing by Jason Neely