Oil and Natural Gas Corporation on Thursday reported a 23 per cent jump in its profit at Rs. 3,053.58 crore in the third quarter ended December 31, 2009, against Rs. 2,474.81 crore in the same period a year ago. Addressing a press conference here, ONGC Chairman and Managing Director R. S. Sharma said the surge in profit was mainly because it realised higher price for oil it produced and paid less fuel subsidy.

Mr. Sharma said ONGC paid 28.6 per cent less fuel subsidy at Rs. 3,497 crore to state retailers to make up for the losses they incurred on selling petrol and diesel below cost.

Upstream firms ONGC, Oil India and GAIL give discounts on crude oil and petroleum products such as LPG they sell to Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation to make up for their losses on fuel sales.

“ONGC gave a discount of $18.97 a barrel to realise $57.69 a barrel in the third quarter,” he said. The corporation’s subsidy payout this fiscal was lower than Rs. 4,899 crore it paid in the October-December period of last fiscal. That year, it realised $33.99 a barrel after giving a discount of $25.03 a barrel. The turnover was up 23.6 per cent at Rs. 15,506.14 crore in the third quarter of current fiscal.

Mr. Sharma said ONGC wrote of 37 dry wells amounting to Rs. 2,480 crore. Last year, the company had amortised Rs. 607 crore. The company had in all drilled 86 exploratory wells and 202 development wells this fiscal, he said.

The crude output declined by 3 per cent to 6.7 million tonnes while gas production was almost flat at 6.457 billion cubic metres. Mr. Sharma said ONGC made seven new discoveries during this period.

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