August 22, 2011 / 3:17 AM / in 6 years

New Zealand Refining H1 profit rises

WELLINGTON, Aug 22 (Reuters) - New Zealand Refining Company Ltd , the country’s only oil refinery, reported a 7 percent rise in first half profit on Monday but said it looked to stronger margins despite a weak U.S. dollar weighing on revenues.

The company made a net profit of NZ$31.2 million ($25.6 million) for the six months to June 30, compared with NZ$29 million last year.

NZ Refining said it would pay a dividend of three cents per share, compared with two cents a share last year.

Shares in the company last traded down 1.5 percent at NZ$3.20. So far this year it has shed about 25 percent compared with a fall of 1.2 percent for the benchmark top 50 index .

The refinery is around 73 percent owned by BP , Mobil Oil NZ , Caltex NZ , and a joint venture between the government’s Superannuation Fund, utilities investor Infratil Ltd , which last year bought out Shell’s (RDSa.L) downstream assets in New Zealand, including the refinery stake.

The company said its average gross refining margin was $6.65 a barrel.

NZ Refining supplies around 80 percent of the country’s refined fuels, and charges a processing fee for refining crude oils and feedstocks.

It said it expected to have a report on the feasibility of a NZ$400 million to NZ$500 million expansion programme by early next year.

($1=NZ$1.22)

Reporting by Adrian Bathgate

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