The net loss for the Hong Kong arm of the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp, CNPC (Hong Kong), has increased further. The oil exploration company reported a 44 per cent increase in net loss to $20.78 million to December 31, compared with $14.43 million a year earlier. This was despite a gain of $2.5 million in exceptional items recorded during the year. Losses per share dipped from 0.53 cent to 0.77 cent and no dividend will be paid for a second year. The company's operating loss after exceptional items soared 41.5 per cent to $20.65 million. Turnover fell to $14.13 million from $38.06 million. CNPC, formerly Paragon Holdings, was bought by the China State Council-controlled petroleum corporation in 1993 for $144 million. Investigations into alleged insider trading in Paragon shares before the takeover were concluded recently and a criminal inquiry was recommended.