Czech oil company Unipetrol has posted net profit of CZK3 billion in the first half of 2007, a 45% increase over the CZK2.1 billion posted in the same period of 2006. The company also saw a 1% increase in revenues in the period, which stood at CZK45.5 billion. The company has also reported on the progress of the modernization of its fuel retail network.

The company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased by 25% from CZK4.8 billion in H1 2006 to CZK6.1 billion in H1 2007, while earnings before interest and taxes rose 60% to CZK4.5 billion.

The company said that although sales volumes grew in all segments, this was strongest in fuel retail, where sales went up by 20% compared with the first half of 2006.

Unipetrol also said that modernization and improvement of Benzina’s fuel retail network is well on track. The company confirmed that out of a total of 319 filling stations, it will be able to introduce 156 refurbished stations, with 78 of them upgraded to the Benzina Plus premium brand, by the end of 2007.

The current score is 90 stations, of which 50 have been upgraded to Benzina Plus. We are also continuously monitoring the quality of the services provided by each of the station operators. Based on that, we have so far replaced 30 partners for more customer-focused ones, said Martin Durcak, CEO of Benzina.

The company said that although it expects to continue to be successful throughout the remainder of 2007, the figures for the latter half of the year will not be as strong as in the first half, due to planned shutdowns in Unipetrol production plants.

In addition to regular maintenance, we are going to invest in an expansion of the production capacity, which will help to strengthen our market position and bring us additional profits in the future. The investments will also lead to an extension of the maintenance cycle to four years and to improved reliability of all units, which will save us significant amounts in the years to come, said Mr Vleugels.

The impact of the shutdowns on 2007 EBITDA is estimated to be about CZK2 billion. The Unipetrol Group’s overall 2007 investments will amount to CZK5.5 billion, which is significantly more than in 2006, when the group invested CZK3.9 billion.