VILNIUS - Mazeikiu Nafta (Mazeikiai Oil) has reported a tremendous jump in earnings in the first quarter of the year on the back of rising prices at the pump.
The company announced that unaudited consolidated net earnings amounted to 195 million litas (56.6 million euros) for the first three months of 2005, up 87 percent year-on-year.
"Solid performance figures are the result of positive market trends combined with our efforts. The refining margin exceeded expectations in the first quarter 's moreover, we raised the refining volume and imposed strict cost controls," said Paul Nelson English, company CEO.
The results were exceptional given that the company's oil refinery, the only one in the Baltics, has repeatedly run into supply disruptions during the quarter due to financial problems of its owner, Yukos, the embattled Russian oil company. At one point the refinery did not receive any deliveries of crude, grinding output to a halt.
Mazeikiu Nafta, which includes the Butinge terminal on the Baltic Sea, is projecting sales of 8.2 billion litas for 2005, up 7 percent year-on-year. The company is predicting that output will rise 9.2 percent to 9.5 million tons of crude and raw materials.
However, crude handling at Butinge is expected to plunge 30.6 percent to 5 million litas.
The Birzai pipeline operator is scheduled to transport 5.5 million tons of diesel fuel in the direction of Ventspils, Latvia, 6.9 million tons of crude to the Mazeikiai refinery and 5 million tons of crude to the crude terminal in Butinge.
The company said it would pay a 0.35 litas per share dividend to shareholders for 2004 and will set aside 247 million litas for the purpose.
The company's shareholder meeting also agreed to transfer 34 million litas to the compulsory reserve and pass 409 million litas in retained earnings on to the next business year.
Yukos controls 53.7 percent in the Mazeikiu refinery complex, while the government holds 40.6 percent. The two sides are reportedly in negotiations to decide future ownership, with Yukos trying to retain control and the government interested in acquiring a majority stake that it could in turn sell to another Russian oil major that would ensure a stable delivery schedule for the refinery, Lithuania's largest taxpayer.