China National Offshore Oil Corporation (Cnooc; CEO.NYSE, 0883.HKG), the country’s largest crude oil and natural gas producer, posted a 7.9% increase in first-half profits, Bloomberg reported. The rise in net income to US$5.6 billion (RMB34.4 billion) beat a median estimate of US$4.9 billion from analysts. Increased output totaling 198.10 million barrels of oil equivalent helped counter higher production costs, according to a Cnooc statement. It also helped compensate for the decline in the price of crude. Brent, the benchmark crude for most of the world’s oil, dropped to US$107.9 per barrel in the first six months, from US$113.6 a barrel last year.