An increase in motorists buying premium fuels has partially offset a decline in unleaded petrol sales, refiner and retailer Caltex Australia says.

Caltex’s half-year profit has dropped 15.2 per cent to $318 million, while underlying profit rose one per cent to $254 million.

The average refining margin for the six months to June 30 slipped to $US10.10 per barrel, from $US16 a barrel a year ago.

The company said the trend for customers to buy higher premium fuel continued in the first half.

The ongoing growth in sales of premium grades, Vortex 95 and Vortex 98, partially offset the long-term decline in demand for unleaded petrol, including E10.

“Strong growth in premium Vortex diesel product across Caltex’s retail segment continues with sales volumes up 14 per cent,” Caltex said in a statement on Tuesday.

Total petrol volumes fell 2.2 per to 2.9 billion litres in the half year.

Caltex said revenue fell primarily due to a significant fall in world crude oil prices with Brent crude oil trading at US$40 a barrel in 2016 compared to $57 a barrel in 2015.

However, it said total expenses decreased as a result of lower replacement cost of goods sold due to the lower price of crude oil.

PREMIUM FUELS DRIVE CALTEX SALES:

* Net profit down 15.2pct to $318m

* Underlying profit up 1pct to $254m

* Interim fully franked dividend of 50 cents, up from 47 cents

Extracted in full from The Age.

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