Vagit Alekperov, the CEO and president of the Russia's major oil company LUKOIL, told reporters about the company's activities in 2007 and set targets for 2008.
He said that according to preliminary estimates the profit had exceeded $8 billion. He said the data were not final and auditors would announce a more exact figure. It may appear to be higher, but not lower, Alekperov said.
The profit of the LUKOIL Group in 2007 exceeded last year's index, he added.
LUKOIL plans to increase hydrocarbon production in 2008 by 5-7 percent.
According to preliminary reports, the company produced 96.6 million tonnes of oil and 16.4 billion cubic metres of natural gas in 12007.
"This year the company will overcome the minor shortfall in production growth and increase hydrocarbon production by 5-7 percent," Alekperov told journalists after a meeting of the company's board of directors.
In his words, the targets will be achieved by commissioning new fields, including the Yuzhno-Khylchuyus field in the Timano-Pechora oil and gas province.
LUKOIL commissioned 13 new field and discovered six more in 2007.
The Yuzhno-Khylchuyus field is scheduled to become operational in the summer of 2008. "Production conditions there are quite harsh and we wouldn' t like to take risks by launching a unique complex at wintertime," Alekperov said.
The company plans to produce about two million tonnes of hydrocarbons at this field in 2008.
LUKOIL also plans to continue geological prospecting at the Caspian Sea and in the Timano-Pechora province. "We hope to specify the contours in 2008 and announce the discovery of a good field in this area," Alekperov said.
He believes that investments in geological prospecting in the Timano-Pechora province may amount to about 300 million U.S. dollars.
The company's hydrocarbon production last year increased by 1.6 percent. LUKOIL produced 96.6 million tonnes of oil, including 91.1 million tonnes in Russia.
Gas production was 16.4 billion cubic metres. According to Alekperov, the company fully made up for production by increasing its reserves to 131 million tonnes of conventional fuel.
LUKOIL's expenses in 2007 slightly exceeded 11 billion U.S. dollars, including 80 percent for geological prospecting and hydrocarbon production, and the remaining 20 percent for processing and marketing.
Vagit Alekperov expressed hope that Russia's future president would continue the policy of defending the interests of Russian companies the presidential election in March 2008. He believes that Russian companies have a good potential to develop rapidly and dynamically due to rich reserves of raw materials.
LUKOIL is negotiating with Kazakhstan for exploration in the Caspian.
"Together with Mittal we are negotiating with the government of Kazakhstan and Kazmunaigas the possibility of getting blocks in the Caspian for exploration," Alekperov said.
Vagit Alekperov said he would meet the Iraqi oil minister at the Davos Economic Forum to discuss the West Qurna-2 project.
He told journalists on Saturday that LUKOIL continued consultations with the Iraqi government.
After an oil law has been adopted, "we will have all grounds to continue consultations with the [Iraqi Oil] Ministry and move on tot hr practical implementation of the West Qurna project," Alekperov said.
Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani said in 2007 that the Iraqi government did not consider LUKOIL's contract signed with the Saddam Hussein administration to be valid.
But LUKOIL experts believe the contract is still legitimate because the company had not received an annulment notice.
The West Qurna field is believed to contain 10-20 billion barrels of oil and can give one million barrels of oil daily. ( Itar-Tass )