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2002 Full Year Results - Santos delivers solid full year result

Santos Limited (ASX: STO, NASDAQ: STOSY) today announced a net profit after tax and exploration write-offs of $322.1 million, or 51.2 cents per share, for the 12 months ended 31 December 2002.

The Companys underlying operating profit remained strong at $392.3 million before $70.2 million of after-tax exploration write-offs ($449.7 million operating profit before write-offs in 2001).

Both the operating and net profits were historically strong results for the Company.

Second half operating profit improved to $226.0 million before after-tax exploration write-offs, and was up by 35.9% from the 2002 first half operating profit and 14.0% higher than the 2001 second half result.

Full year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, depletion and amortisation (EBITDA) of $1,084.4 million exceeded $1 billion for the third year in a row.

Cash flow from operating activities, after interest and tax, increased by 14.5% to $820.8 million ($1.41 per share).

This is a solid result, reflecting the benefits of the disciplined implementation of our strategy, Santos Managing Director, Mr John Ellice-Flint, said.

The performance of the key drivers of our business is highly visible and delivering tangible, measurable benefits under the strategy for growth adopted in May 2001, Mr Ellice-Flint said.

The result was achieved from record sales of 57 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe) and a higher average realised oil price in the second half.

“These positive factors partly offset increased non-cash charges.

Mr Ellice-Flint said the latest results reflected increased production and lower capital costs.

Production grew by 3%, operating and capital cost-savings of $78 million were well ahead of our $50 million target for the end of 2003, and our 2002 exploration program brought the Company new oil and gas discoveries spread across Australia, the US, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

We contracted Cooper Basin gas at improved margins, and replaced 119% of our annual production.

During the year, Santos also acquired the Esenjay interests in South Texas as well as a 20% interest in the Patricia Baleen gas project off-shore from Orbost in eastern Victoria, which will be Santos first off-shore Victorian production.