BG profits boosted by LNG imports

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The Independent Online

BG, the group which supplies a big chunk of the UK's gas, is set to unveil market-beating profits for the first quarter because of the surge in the price of imported liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The company said yesterday that profits from its LNG business for the three months would be not less than £130m, double the figure analysts had pencilled into their forecasts and nearly five times the £27m made in the same period last year.

BG has a 50 per cent stake in the Dragon Oil LNG facility at Milford Haven in south Wales and can bring in 3 billion cubic metres of gas through the terminal each year - enough to meet nearly 5 per cent of the UK's annual demand.

The group said that although the total number of LNG cargoes shipped in the first quarter was broadly stable at 40, the price achieved was considerably higher.

About two-thirds of the LNG was sold into Japan and Europe - principally the UK, Spain and Italy.

The new guidance from BG sent analysts scurrying to upgrade their profit forecasts, which are likely to be increased by at least 10 per cent on the back of the fresh information from BG. The company reports its results on 3 May.

Shares in the group, a perennial subject of bid speculation, rose 1.25 per cent to 728.5p, valuing it at £25bn.

The latest rumours suggest that Exxon Mobil, the world's biggest oil company, has been eyeing up an offer for BG, although BP and Royal Dutch Shell have also both been linked to potential bids in the past.