PetroChina (601857.SH, 0857.HK) reported a 29% year-on-year increase in net profit to US$9.61 billion in the first half of 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported. Income growth was driven largely by high oil prices and increasing demand, which compensated for lower refining margins. Zhou Jiping, vice chairman of PetroChina, said he expected earnings to be even higher in coming months due to the company’s expanded oil and natural gas operations. "[T]he domestic exploration-and-production operation is still our top priority … because this segment is the largest contributor to our profit," he said. PetroChina, the country’s largest oil producer by volume, also said that it would expand abroad more aggressively, possibly because domestic price controls could cut into margins, and hinted at pursuing a shale-gas alliance with ConocoPhillips (COP.NYSE).
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