Russia's Lukoil posts profit plunge

MOSCOW: Russian oil major Lukoil saw its net profits plunge 56 percent in the first half of the year to 3.2 billion dollars (2.2 billion euros) compared to the same time last year, the company said on Friday.

The turnover at privately-owned Lukoil, Russia's second biggest oil company after state-owned Rosneft, also went down 39 percent to 34.9 billion dollars.

In the second quarter, net profits at Lukoil were down 44 percent at 2.3 billion dollars -- still better than the 1.76-billion profit expected by analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires ahead of the announcement.

Lukoil, which is 20-percent owned by US major ConocoPhillips, has been hit hard by the fall in oil prices from last year. Its production however went up four percent in the first half compared to the first six months of 2008.

But Lukoil vice president Leonid Fedun, quoted by Russian news agencies, said oil production in Russia would likely stagnate and then fall because of a lack of new licences on the market and oil fields going to state companies.

Fedun also said that Lukoil expected to complete the purchase from France's Total of a 45 percent stake in a Dutch refinery by September 1. The 725-million-dollar (505-million-euro) deal was announced in June.