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Russian gas firm Novatek's profits up 22% to $664 mln in 2008


MOSCOW, March 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's largest independent gas producer said on Wednesday its net profits had increased 22% year-on-year in 2008 to 22.9 billion rubles (about $664 million) calculated according to International Financial Reporting Standards.

Oil and gas sales grew 25.9% to 76 billion rubles ($2.2 billion) in the reporting period, and operating profit rose about 27% to 32.12 billion rubles ($933 million), while operating costs increased 26.4% to 46.9 billion ($1.4 billion), the company said in a statement.

Novatek's long-term liabilities grew 180% as of December 31 to 28.7 billion rubles ($833.7 million), and current liabilities increased 17.3% to over 14 billion rubles ($406.7 million) by the end of last year.

"Despite the difficult economic situation in the world, we have continued investing significant funds to achieve the company's strategic goals of increasing output and processing," Novatek CEO Leonid Mikhelson was quoted as saying in the statement.

The firm's gas fields are located in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area in West Siberia, which has the world's largest natural gas reserves. The region accounts for over 90% of Russian natural gas output and around 20% of global gas production.

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