Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Russian oil producer Gazprom Neft said Thursday its free cash flow improved more than 70 percent from last year, though production increased by 2 percent.
The company in its second-half announcement said revenues increased 24.4 percent from the same period last year and free cash flow of $708 million marked a 77 percent increase over the first six months of 2017.
"This performance reflected positive market conditions for oil and oil products, production growth at the company's new projects, and effective management initiatives," its statement read.
The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, is up about 40 percent compared with this point last year. An increase in the price of oil has been supported by an effort from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to level the market with controlled production restraints. Russia is the largest non-member state contributor to the agreement and has a key role in the effort, alongside de facto OPEC leader Saudi Arabia.
"Gazprom Neft has seen a 1.5-fold increase in its operating profit in the first half of 2018, once again confirming its market-leading position in terms of financial growth," Chairman of the Board Alexander Dyukov said in a statement.
Gains for the first half came even as total production for the company, the oil arm of Russian energy company Gazprom, increased only 2 percent from the same period last year.
The board of directors at Russia's third-largest oil producer in June approved a payout of $1.15 billion in dividends, or about $0.24 per share, 40 percent higher than last year.
Oil represents about 7 percent of the total Russian gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. That metric plunged to around 5 percent in 2015 just as oil prices were targeting historic lows below $30 per barrel, pushing the Russian economy into a recession.
OPEC economists in their monthly market report for August said that growth in Russian gross domestic product would be 1.8 percent in both 2018 and 2019.