KARACHI - The profitability of listed oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) companies grew by 13 per cent to Rs 23.4 billion during 3rd Quarter of the Fiscal Year 2010. On the other hand, production remained muted with oil production contracting by 1.7 per cent to 66Kbpd whereas gas production depicted upsurge of meager 2 per cent to 4.1bcf per day. Boost in volumetric sales of natural gas stemmed chiefly from Manzalai CPF attaining full capacity utilization coupled with commencement of production from Baqar Deep and Adam. Topline grew by a meager 0.5 percent. However, if the incremental revenue recognized by OGDC during 2QFY10 amounting to Rs 8.7 billion owing to retrospective implication of Qadirpur gas field. Surge in topline on QoQ basis stemmed from 2 percent uptick in gas production, 20 percent to 24 percent scaling up of realized gas wellhead prices for 2HFY10, 1.1 percent depreciation of PKR against USD, and higher international crude oil prices during the quarter. The bottomline registered a less than proportionate increase in contrast with the topline for 9MFY10 primarily due to 32 percent rise in exploration cost and 35 percent decline in other income on YoY basis. Amidst passive exploration activity, cost swelled due to higher number of dry and abandoned wells with roughly 42 percent of the total cost emanating from 2QFY10 alone. Despite decline in both oil and gas production by 7 percent and 1.4 percent at Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd (OGDC) respectively, topline grew by 9 percent YoY for 9MFY10 primarily on account of incremental revenue recognition of Rs 8.7 billion during 2QFY10 (PKR13.7bn for 9MFY10) emanating from Qadirpur gas field price revision. However, marred by 44 percent jump in exploration cost, profitability shrank by 5 percent to PKR42.61bn with earning per share of Rs 9.91. While the quarterly earnings grew by 23 percent YoY basis to Rs 14.12bn with earning per share of Rs 3.28 over the corresponding period last year. The revenue escalated chiefly on account of 20 percent to 24 percent jump in realized gas wellhead prices for 2HFY10, 7.5 percent depreciation of PKR against USD, and higher international crude oil prices. Exploration cost jumped by 44 percent YoY due to 6 dry and abandoned wells being expensed out during the period under review. However, during 3QFY10 exploration cost shrunk sharply by 60 percent QoQ since 57 percent of the total exploration cost during 9MFY10 was incurred during 2QFY10 alone. The other income of the company witnessed further drop of 37 percent while financial cost nearly doubled owing to liquidity constraints arising from persistent circular debt issue. Trade debt amassed to Rs 89 billion of which Rs 62.5 billion is receivable from refineries and gas distribution companies.