The PetroVietnam Group earned 151.2 trillion VND (7.2 billion USD) in the first quarter of this year, despite challenges caused by fluctuating oil prices, the national petroleum group announced on April 6.

"This figure is a year-on-year increase of 59.4 percent, representing 30.2 percent of our annual target," said Deputy Director General Le Minh Hong.

PetroVietnam has already sold 2.7 billion USD to domestic banks in line with a Government request to free up foreign currency, and the group is expected to pay about 36.5 VND trillion (1.74 billion USD) in taxes for the first quarter of this year, a year-on-year increase of 35 percent.

"PetroVietnam produced 6.02 million tonnes of oil, including 3.68 million tonnes of crude oil in Q1," said Hong, adding that the group had sold 3.65 million tonnes of the crude oil.

Of this number, he added, 1.96 million tonnes were for export, 1.56 million tonnes went to the Dung Quat Refinery and 131,000 tonnes were both exploited and sold in foreign countries.

"The group also produced 2.33 billion cu.m of gas, and 218,400 tonnes of urea fertiliser," Hong said.

During the first quarter, PetroVietnam started work on eight new projects and inaugurated 14.

However, work was put on hold at 19 projects with a total investment capital of 582 billion VND (27.7 million USD), but processing time was extended at 45 others, worth 6 trillion VND (285.7 million USD).

"These decisions were taken following the Government's direction on inspecting projects and investment," said PetroVietnam General Director Phung Dinh Thuc.

Thuc affirmed that these projects had been carefully examined.

"We have checked a large number of projects and postponed and extended where we can. Urgent and on-going projects will not be on the list," Thuc said, affirming that the moves will not affect any power projects.

He also added that the inspections will continue in the future.

In the second quarter, PetroVietnam expects to reach a revenue of 152.12 trillion VND (7.25 billion USD)./.