While the resource giant reported a 19% decline in net profit to $US931 million for the half-year ended 31 December 2002, the petroleum division contributed earnings before interest and tax of $US660 million, up from $US576 million on the corresponding period last year.
BPHB said the increase in EBIT was due mainly to a higher average realised oil price of $US27.19 per barrel compared to $US22.54 per barrel in the corresponding period. In addition, lower exploration costs and higher volumes at the North West Shelf also contributed positively to the bottom line.
BHPB said these factors were partly offset by lower overall sales and production volumes at Liverpool Bay (UK) due to scheduled maintenance, and lower production at Bass Strait and Laminaria (Australia), due to natural field decline.
An increase in price-linked costs (royalties and taxes), higher depreciation and an increase in costs at Bass Strait also had an unfavourable impact on EBIT of the petroleum division.