Santos First-Half Profit Climbs 3% After Natural Gas Prices Rise

Santos Ltd., Australia’s third-biggest oil producer, said first-half profit rose 3 percent, beating estimates, driven by higher natural gas prices.

Net income was A$271 million ($248 million) in the six months ended June 30, from A$262 million a year earlier, the Adelaide-based company said today in a statement. That exceeded the A$262 million median estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Santos is building the $18.5 billion Gladstone liquefied natural gas project, one of three going ahead in Australia’s Queensland state to meet rising Asian demand. The company also is Exxon Mobil Corp.’s partner in a $19 billion LNG development in Papua New Guinea scheduled to start next year.

Santos in July cut its production forecast for 2013 to 52 million to 55 million barrels of oil equivalent from 53 million to 57 million barrels, citing delays at projects in Asia and Australia.

The company’s production declined 4 percent in the first half of the year to 24.5 million barrels of oil equivalent, while sales rose 1 percent to A$1.5 billion on higher gas prices, it said in July.

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