Indian refiner HPCL's Q4 profit falls on higher costs

BENGALURU (Reuters) - India's state-owned refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) reported a fall in its fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, hurt by higher raw material costs and selling fuel below market prices.

India has been buying cheap Russian oil since the war with Ukraine started but discounts have narrowed from $30 per barrel in 2022 to less than $10 this year.

Refiners also cut fuel prices at pumps ahead of the country's general elections that started mid-April and will go on until early June.

Crude oil prices jumped nearly 14% in January-March.

Hindustan Petroleum's standalone net profit for the quarter ended March 31 fell 11.8% from a year earlier to 28.43 billion rupees ($340.6 million), sending its shares down 4.2% on Thursday.

Sale of products grew 6% from a year earlier to 1.21 trillion rupees during the quarter.

Total expenses rose about 7% to 1.19 trillion rupees due to an 18% jump in raw materials costs.

Hindustan Petroleum's average gross refining margin - the profit from making refined products from one barrel of oil - for the year ended March 31 was $9.08 per barrel, compared with $12.09 per barrel a year earlier.

Larger state-run peer Indian Oil Corp also reported a fall in its quarterly profit on inventory losses and lower pump prices.

Hindustan Petroleum approved a bonus issue of shares in the ratio of 1:2 and declared a final dividend of 16.5 rupees per share.

($1 = 83.4760 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Anuran Sadhu in Bengaluru; Editing by Mrigank Dhaniwala)