File photo: Hasan Jamali.
Beijing - PetroChina's profit fell 78 percent to the lowest on record as the energy price crash ­punished the country’s biggest oil and gas producer for a third year.

Net income dropped to 7.86 billion yuan (R14.7 billion), the Beijing-based company said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange yesterday.

That compares with a 8.8 billion yuan mean of 12 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue fell 6.3 percent to 1.62 trillion yuan. PetroChina warned in January profits might fall by as much as 80 percent.

The energy price slump has forced global oil and gas producers to reduce spending, cut workers and write down the value of assets.

Investors are focusing on how long-awaited energy reforms from President Xi Jinping’s government may transform the nation’s energy giants, raising speculation that PetroChina and its parent, China National Petroleum, may spin off its massive pipeline system.

The company’s shares rose 0.2 percent to HK$5.76 (R9.55) before the earnings statement, compared with a 0.4 percent loss in the city’s benchmark Hang Seng Index.

Read also: PetroChina reviews LNG push

PetroChina issued a final dividend of 0.038 yuan per share, compared with a forecast of about 0.025 yuan in data compiled by Bloomberg.

China’s state-asset regulators are squeezing companies for cash, Laban Yu, an analyst with Jefferies Group in Hong Kong said in a research note on Monday.

Despite reporting its worst-ever annual results, Cnooc issued a HK$0.23 dividend, compared with a forecast for HK$0.17 in data compiled by Bloomberg.

China Petroleum and Chemical, known as Sinopec, issued a final payout of 0.17 yuan, compared with a 0.08 yuan forecast. The company cut spending by 15 percent to 172.4 billion yuan, below its 192 billion yuan target.

PetroChina said yesterday that it planned to raise spending to 191.3bn yuan this year. Both of its state-owned rivals said last week that they intend to boost capital expenditures by more than 40 percent each.

Analysts have estimated PetroChina’s pipeline network could be worth at least $85 billion in a potential spin-off. Its natural gas and crude oil transportation system stretches from the country’s remote borders with Central Asia to major coastal cities.