PetroChina, the nation’s largest oil and gas producer, posted a 17.3 per cent decline in net profit for last year on the back of lower oil price. Net profit amounted to 107.17 billion yuan last year, from 129.6 billion yuan last year, and was 4.2 per cent lower than the 111.9 billion yuan average estimate of 29 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. The estimate has been cut from 113.2 billion yuan a week earlier. Operating profit from oil and gas output fell 1.5 per cent to 186.9 billion yuan last year from 2013, as a 13 per cent decline in average oil selling price more than offset a 3.6 per cent rise in oil and gas output. “The exploration and production segment continued to maintain a stable profit by proactively coping with the unfavourable conditions caused by the drop in oil price, through carrying out oil and gas production efficiently and enhancing its control over costs and expenses continuously,” the company said in a filing to Hong Kong’s stock exchange. Its oil refining and chemicals operation’s operating loss narrowed to 23.56 billion yuan, from a loss of 24.4 billion yuan in 2013. Fuel and chemicals marketing posted an operating profit drop of 28.3 per cent to 5.42 billion yuan. Natural gas trading and pipeline operations saw operating profit fall 54.6 per cent to 13.1 billion yuan, due to the absence of a 24.8 billion yuan pipeline disposal gain in 2013. Excluding this special gain, operating profit had risen by 9 billion yuan year over year due to higher domestic gas prices and lower losses on gas import. The board has proposed a final dividend of 9.6 fen per share, raising the full-year payout to 26.3 fen per share, compared to 31.87 fen in 2013. The expected full-year payout amounts to 45 per cent of net profit, the same as in 2013.