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Where the oil marketing companies were expected to be bruised this result season, the oil and gas exploration and production companies have been expected to celebrate higher earnings and margins in FY19 that was highlighted by significant currency depreciation.

Mari Petroleum Company Limited (PSX: MARI) announced a hefty increase in its earnings for FY19 – 58.2 percent year-on-year to be exact – which was due to increase in net sales and finance income, and somewhat controlled operating expenditure.

Growth of 17.5 percent year-on-year in gross sale came from better gas volumes sold as well as increase in wellhead/consumer gas price. And the increase in other income in form of exchange gains further lifted the bottom-line. Growth in profits was cut short by increase in royalty expenses and exploration and prospecting expenditure.

The government has added Mari Petroleum Company Limited to the list of 8 entities that it will privatize in FY20. Recall that the E&P Company’s offloading of government shares has been delayed since 2016 due to difference of opinion. Even under the present government, the idea of selling of government shareholding in the company came under fire when the Ministry of Energy opposed to the selling off of a well-managed asset earlier this year. However, the government decided to increase its earnings by offloading 18.39 percent of its shareholding in Mari. Fauji Foundation has 40 percent stake and OGDC has 20 percent stake, while the remaining is held by institutional investors and the general public. The latest that was heard about the deal was in April 2019 when the Privatisation Commission had arrived at MARI’s fair market value, which was over 20 percent higher than its current market price at that time.

Whether or not Mari’s privatisation will happen in FY20, there is still ample time. The company’s future plans are about going aggressive in exploration and drilling activity that include the acquisition of two new blocks in Sindh and the tribal areas that have been acquired during the government’s bidding round for 10 exploration blocks.