Q1/10 results supported by favorable oil price environment and optimized cost management: as the Urals crude price rose by 72% over the same period of last year.

Economic downturn reflected in the company’s operational results, as hydrocarbon production was 4% lower than year-ago period and total marketing sales volumes decreased by 22%, while consolidated gas sales increased by 5% over the same period, refining margin recovered from Q4 2009 lows, and middle distillate spreads remained comparatively low.

"In the first quarter of 2010, we managed to extend the steady improvement of our results despite the challenging business environment, when the usual seasonal effects were compounded by the economic downturn. In E&P, difficult winter conditions and natural decline impaired our production levels in Romania, whilst oil production in Kazakhstan further increased due to Komsomolskoe field being brought gradually onstream; furthermore, we continued improving our cost position,” said Mariana Gheorghe (photo), CEO of OMV Petrom.

In R&M, she continued, results were supported by the optimized refinery operations and cost reductions that helped mitigate the effects of lower marketing sales volumes and lower margins.

“In order to ensure our business sustainability, we will continue to pursue our considerable investment program, with half of it centered on E&P, while also seeking the timely implementation of the share capital increase for which we received authorization from our shareholders on the April 29, 2010," Petrom’s CEO added.

Capex dropped 38% to 717 million lei (€174.4 million), with lower capex in exploitation and power and refining and marketing, but substantially higher in gas and power.

“In 2010, we expect the oil price to remain under volatile trading broadly within a range of USD 60-85/bbl. Given the volatile economic environment, we expect to see a slightly weaker EUR versus RON and USD. The market for refined products is forecast to remain challenging throughout the year 2010, despite the recovery witnessed at the beginning of the year”, the company said in its quarterly report.

The company has a share capital of 5.66 billion lei, divided into 56.6 billion shares with a face value of 0.1 lei. The majority shareholder of the oil company is OMV Austria with 51.01% stake. The Ministry of Economy holds 20.6% and Fondul Proprietatea 20.11%.

OMV has a market cap of 17.05 billion lei (€4.08 billion), according to yesterday’s closing quote of 0.301 lei/share.