Petronet LNG Ltd, the nation's biggest importer of gas, today reported a 31 per cent drop in fourth-quarter net profit, mostly due to very low capacity utilisation at its newly commissioned Kochi import terminal.
The company posted a profit of Rs 169.3 crore for January-March compared with Rs 245.14 crore for the quarter ended March 31, 2013, Petronet Chief Executive Officer A K Balyan told reporters here.
While the company's 10 million ton-a-year import terminal at Dahej in Gujarat operated at 96 per cent of capacity, the 5 million ton Kochi terminal operated at 1 per cent of capacity in the absence of pipelines to take gas to customers in Mangalore and Bangalore.
"Results have accounted for interest (on loans taken to build the Kochi terminal) and depreciation," he said.
Since the terminal was commissioned in September 2013, the interest payout has been Rs 109 crore and Rs 121 crore is on account of depreciation.
"On a full-year basis, interest and depreciation impact will be Rs 400 crore," Petronet Director (Finance) R K Garg said.
With average utilisation of the Kochi terminal at an abysmally low 3.5 per cent, Petronet is looking to lease out half of the storage capacity at the plant to liquefied natural gas (LNG) suppliers and traders who want to use the facility as an intermediate storage point.
"We have received good response for hiring the storage space. There are several internationally known companies like Gazprom of Russia which have envisaged interest," Balyan said.
Turnover increased to Rs 10,458.55 crore in Q4 from Rs 8,487.86 crore for the quarter ended March 31, 2013. The company processed nine cargoes or shiploads of LNG less in the quarter due to low demand, he said, adding that things are improving with a pick up in demand.
For the full financial year, Petronet posted a net profit of Rs 711.92 crore as compared to Rs 1,149.28 crore a year earlier.