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By Baeau Tai

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 19) – Papua New Guinea’s New Britain Palm Oil Ltd (NBO) posted a half-year profit of PGK36.8 million [US$12.8 million], up 6.82 percent from PGK34.5 million [US$12 million] in the same period last year on the back of high mineral oil prices.

Revenues increased by 5.95 percent from PGK196.3 million [US$68.8 million] in the first half of last year to PGK208 million [US$72.9 million] in the first half of this year.

The company said in its half-year report it will be paying out an interim dividend of 10 toea per share for this to its shareholders.

"This means a total dividend payment of PGK12 million [US$] will be paid out in early December," NBO managing director Nick Thompson said in the report.

The date of the payment will be announced through the Port Moresby Stock Exchange in accordance with an approval timetable, he said.

Net assets for the company increased from PGK368.3 million [US$129.1 million] in the first half of last year to PGK405.3 million [US$142.1 million] this year.

The oil palm company also reported higher than expected yields of fruit for the past eight months, despite unusually wet weather this year.

"The wetter conditions have not had any serious impact on operations," Mr. Thompson said.

During the year, infrastructure had been improved to cope with additional fruit, in line with the company’s growth forecasts.

Prices for crude palm oil and for refined products had also been in line with expectations and continue to look good for immediate future, driven mainly by continuing high mineral oil prices and the demand for bio-diesel and bio-energy.

"High mineral oil costs were also affecting the cost of sea freight and also internal transport and power generation costs," Thompson said.

He said the company’s planned construction of a power plant to run by-products is due to be completed next year and will substantially reduce operational costs.

NBO is also looking at opportunities to build a bio-diesel plant to produce fuel for both internal use and external sales.

At current costs, there are significant opportunities for the company to provide high-grade fuel that is not only cleaner but far cheaper than diesel.

Its expansion into the Solomon Islands through Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Ltd is progressing as scheduled and the first shipment of 1,000 tons of crude palm oil took place this month from Honiara to Europe.

September 20, 2006

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