UPDATE 1-India's Reliance profit tops estimate on refining margins
* Q1 net profit at 53.5 bln rupees vs estimate of 52.7 bln
* Q1 refining margin rises to $8.4 per bbl vs $7.6 year ago
* Company hopes to stabilise D6 production - CFO
By Prashant Mehra
July 19 (Reuters) - Higher margins from its core refining business helped Indian energy conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd post a third consecutive increase in quarterly profit, even as revenue from gas sales fell and output continued to decline.
Average gross refining margin rose to $8.4 per barrel for the June quarter compared with $7.6 in the same period last year, helping boost profits nearly 19 percent to a higher-than-expected 53.52 billion rupees ($897.91 million).
Net sales fell 4.6 percent to 876.5 billion rupees while revenue from its oil and gas business fell 42 percent after weakening nearly 39 percent in the previous quarter.
Reliance, controlled by Mukesh Ambani, India's richest man, operates the world's biggest refining complex and derives nearly 80 percent of its revenue from refining. It was expected to post June quarter net profit of 52.7 billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Reliance is poised to benefit from a recent government decision to double domestic gas prices from April 1, 2014, a measure the company had set as a precondition for any further investments in gas production. Continued...