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Petrofac bullish on 2009, FY earnings up 39%

Oil services group Petrofac sounded a bullish note about growth in 2009, in spite of falling oil prices and global economic problems, as it reported a 39.1% rise in full-year earnings.

Petrofac, which supplies the international oil & gas production and processing industry, said orders in 2009 had already risen to more than half the total it won in 2008.

The group's order backlog, which was $4 billion at the end of 2008 compared with $4.4 billion in 2007, has increased by a further $2.8 billion so far this year.

Contracts from Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, markets that the company has targeted for medium-term growth, were among the latest wins, it said.

There have been concerns that falling oil prices would prompt oil explorers to cut back on major projects, reducing business for service suppliers such as Petrofac.

Group Chief Executive Ayman Asfari said the company expected customers' operational spending to stay reasonably robust in spite of lower oil prices, although he said those activities more dependent on discretionary spending would still face more challenging conditions in 2009.

The group has a strong balance sheet and there may be opportunities within the group's energy development operations to invest in development assets as smaller independent oil firms are unable to access debt and equity markets, Asfari said.

“Despite the recent rapid and severe downturn in the global economic outlook, Petrofac has reported a year of excellent growth in 2008 and remains well-positioned to deliver further strong growth in 2009 and beyond,” the group said in its results statement.

Pretax earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization were $419 million against $301.3 million beforehand on a 36.4% rise in revenues to $3.33 billion.

The group increased its full year dividend per share by 55% to 25.4 cents. (Reuters)