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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 May, 2005, 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK
BG Group profits from oil prices
BG Group platform
Rising oil and gas prices have helped BG's profits
UK energy exploration and production firm, BG Group, has seen a 44% rise in quarterly profits on the back of rising oil and gas prices.

Operating profits for the first quarter were 483m ($907m), and oil production was up 7% on the same period last year.

BG, formed in 1997 after British Gas split into two firms, said production had been boosted by output at its oil and gas fields in Kazakhstan and Egypt.

Chief executive Frank Chapman said it was "an excellent start to the year".

"The 44% increase in total operating profit has been driven by strong underlying growth," he said.

"In addition, we have continued to make good progress on the delivery of key projects."

Net profits, excluding exceptional items such as asset sales, were 270m.

Record oil prices have helped oil giants, such as BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil, to report healthy profits this year.

Exploration gains

At BG's key exploration and production division, operating profits were up 47% at 387m.

Activities in its large Karachaganak oil and gas field in north-west Kazakhstan helped boost exports, as did an increase in production in the Scarab Saffron gas fields in Egypt.

BG said profits had also been boosted by strong performances in its transmission and distribution divisions.

The firm has invested heavily in producing liquefied national gas (LNG) - gas which is super-cooled to liquid, enabling it to be transported under high pressure across long distances.

Operating profit at its LNG unit was up 80% at 27m, on the back of higher volumes.

BG also said it had completed 11 exploration and appraisal wells already in 2005, of which eight were successful.

In early trade in London, its shares were down 1.5 pence at 417p.

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