Russia's main oil producer Rosneft has shocked the market by posting a quarterly net loss of $US250 million ($A239 million) due to falling energy prices and prohibitive export duty rates.
Analysts had expected the state-held company's profits to suffer in the second quarter but to still come in at $US1.0-2.0 billion on the back of stable output and demand.
"Financial results of the first half of 2012 reflect the current economic situation, which is characterised by falling oil prices, higher export duties and considerable exchange rate volatility," Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin said on Wednesday.
Sechin also looked on the quarter's positives by noting two major Arctic field exploration agreements that Russia's largest company had struck with Italy's ENI and Norway's Statoil in recent months.
Rosneft "took a number of strategic steps to expand partnerships with international companies in hard-to-recover oil and offshore operations, and stepped up cooperation with the Russian government to create a favourable tax regime for such projects", Sechin said.
The rapidly growing firm is responsible for about a fifth of Russia's oil production and has recently developed into a Western investment darling because of its exclusive rights to previously untapped northern sea reserves.
But the entire Russian energy sector has been hit by a year-on-year drop in global oil prices that coincided with a steep depreciation of the rouble.
"The company was always going to suffer from a devaluation in the rouble because of its dollar-denominated debt," the ATON investment bank said.
The quarter was particularly painful because export duties jumped to $US443 from $US401 per tonne as a result of a calculation lag that does not fully account for most recent energy price changes.
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