PetroChina profit plunges 78% to record low

PetroChina paid out dividends for 2017 roughly equal to its full-year annual profit

State-owned Chinese energy giant PetroChina on Thursday announced it slumped to a record-low profit for 2016 as global oil price weakness slashed earnings by 78 percent.

Net profit fell to 7.86 billion yuan ($1.1 billion), the Beijing-based company said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange, where it lists shares.

Bloomberg News reported that the profit figure was a record-low for PetroChina, the country's biggest oil producer.

Citing a "complicated and severe domestic and international economic environment," PetroChina blamed the result on depressed prices of crude oil and natural gas and a "severe" oversupply of refined products due to slower demand as China's economic growth moderates.

PetroChina said it was cautiously optimistic for 2017, if the global economy can recover.

"As the global oil market gradually tends to be balanced, the international oil price is likely to rebound, but may still involve relatively great uncertainty," the company statement said.

Tian Miao, a Beijing-based analyst at North Square Blue Oak Ltd., told Bloomberg News that profit was "badly hit by the oil price crash last year".

"We're expecting better results from the company this year with the rebound in international crude prices."

PetroChina's Hong Kong-listed shares closed 0.2 percent higher at HK$5.76 on Thursday before the earnings statement.

Earlier this week, state-owned Chinese energy major Sinopec said its 2016 net profit jumped 44 percent to 46.7 billion yuan ($6.8 billion), its first annual profit rise in three years.

It said strong demand and better margins in its downstream refining business helped offset low oil prices.

Sinopec, Asia’s biggest refiner, had previously seen profits dive around 30 percent in both 2015 and 2014.