Cairn India today reported 48 per cent jump in its December quarter net profit as it looks to begin a USD 600 million exploration campaign in Rajasthan, Sri Lanka and South Africa aimed at raising oil production.
Net profit in the October-December quarter this fiscal climbed 48 per cent to Rs 3,344.89 crore as against an earning of Rs 2,322.18 crore in the year-ago period, the company said in a statement.
The profit was boosted by foreign exchange gain of Rs 235.71 crore, as against a loss of Rs 785.81 crore in the preceding quarter.
The profit was up despite fall in oil price realisation - the company got USD 96.2 for every barrel of crude oil produced in Q3 of current fiscal, compared to USD 101.2 a barrel in the same period last fiscal.
On a per share basis, its earnings per share rose by 39 per cent to Rs 16.50 from the Rs 11.85 in Q3 FY'12.
During the quarter, gross production rose 21 per cent to 205,114 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd). Its flagship Rajasthan block produced an average of 169,977 barrel of oil per day, lower than 175,000 bpd output the company had projected previously.
Cairn hopes to exit the fiscal with 175,000 bpd of production even as it bring a smaller Aishwariya oilfield in the prolific Rajasthan block on production before the end of current quarter. Aishwariya, which will start with some 2,000 bpd of output, is targeted to reach 10,000 bpd by June.
The company said it has got approval from the government for drilling exploratory wells within the producing oilfields in the Rajasthan block, a move that will help it add reserves.
It is now targetting to drill the first exploration well in the Rajasthan fields by end of the current fiscal.
Also, Cairn has managed a rig to drill a well ahead of schedule in Sri Lanka while it will begin seismic surveys in the exploration block it recently acquired in South Africa.
Company CEO P Elango said Cairn and its partner ONGC "appreciates policy clarity to carry out exploration in existing development blocks. It is a significant step for the nation towards energy self-sufficiency and will not only add to economic growth but also reduce the fiscal deficit through increased contribution to the exchequer".
Cairn is now looking to focus on gas prospects in Rajasthan and bring them to commercial production as fast as possible.
However, its income from operations declined 4 per cent to Rs 4278 crore, QoQ after paying royalty for Rajasthan blocks in which it has 70 per cent participating interest.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) declined 4.9 per cent QoQ to Rs 3,258 crore in October-December quarter.
Cairn said it has decided to pay an interim dividend of Rs 5 a share.