UPDATE 1-Petronas Q3 net profit falls 22 percent to 12.4 billion ringgit

Thu Nov 29, 2012 4:35am EST
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* Producer needs overseas reserves to offset falling output

* Company pushes for new dividend policy tied to profits

KUALA LUMPUR Nov 29 (Reuters) - Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Bhd posted a 22 percent fall in third-quarter net profit as a halt in production in Sudan and pressure on its margins dented its performance.

Petronas said its profit for the quarter ended Sept. 30 fell 22 percent to 12.4 billion ringgit ($4.06 billion) from 15.9 billion ringgit a year ago.

"The environment remains challenging, but we are quite happy with what we have achieved," CEO Shamsul Azhar Abbas told reporters.

Unlisted Petronas accounts for nearly half of Malaysia's government budget revenues and needs to secure more overseas reserves to offset declining output and maintain profits.

The oil firm has been pushing for a new dividend policy that would set the annual payout to the government at 30 percent of profits instead of the flat 28 billion ringgit it will pay this year.

A lower payout to the government would preserve money to reinvest in global oil and gas exploration in order to compensate for declining domestic supplies.

A Reuters analysis of Petronas and government financial data has shown Petronas would have paid close to 17 billion ringgit in the March 2011 fiscal year if the 30 percent dividend formula was in place.   Continued...