Red chip CNPC (Hong Kong) returned to profitability last year making $21.9 million in the year to December, the first time it has posted a profit since China National Petroleum bought it with a back-door listing in 1993. The company lost $20.78 million the previous year. The results were lifted by a $16 million exceptional gain from money recovered from subsidiaries, and write-back from over-provision against a court case settlement. Turnover shot up 881 per cent to $108.6 million from the $11.7 million previously. The company achieved an operating profit of $16.6 million compared to a $22.4 million loss a year ago. Earnings per share were 72 cents, up from a loss per share of 77 cents. No dividend will be paid for last year. Executive director Li Changlin declined to comment but previously said the firm's growth would be fuelled by its Karamay oilfield. It took a 54 per cent stake in developing the oilfield in Xinjiang last year, which produced 500,000 tonnes of oil in 1996. Production is expected to rise this year. The company's share price has risen more than 78 per cent since April 21 to yesterday's close of $1.48 a share. Trading was boosted by rumours it would develop China's Leng Jiapu oilfield with Liaohe Petroleum Exploration Bureau. The firm is expected to launch a share placement when its shares hit $2.