The National, Tuesday 28th August, 2012
NEW Britain Palm Oil Ltd (NBPOL) chief executive Nick Thompson says the lower fresh fruit bunches (FFB) production in the first-half of this year is certainly not a biological issue in the oil palm trees.
The company last Thursday announced “disappointing” earnings of US$72 million for the first-half of this year, on revenues down 9.4% at US$366 million, from US$403.9 million the year before.
Thompson said rainfall in West New Britain was 48% higher during this period compared with the first-half of last year – 2.59cm against 1.75cm – inhibiting NBPOL workers’ ability to collect and transport FFB.
“In the first-half of 2012, the group processed 1,223,179 tonnes of FFB, 5.6% lower than the same period last year due to extremely high rainfall across all of our operating sites but particularly in West New Britain, our largest production base, where we processed 13.8% less FFB year-on-year,” he said.
At the company’s operations outside of West New Britain, it was a different story.
Thompson said this was shown by NBPOL operations at the Kula Palm Oil Ltd (KPOL) sites (Higaturu, Milne Bay and Poliamba); at Ramu Agri Industries Ltd (RAIL); and at Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Ltd (GPPOL) in Solomon Islands where the company processed a combined 6.1% increase in FFB production year on year.
“In addition, we have, during July and August, clawed back some of the FFB shortfall at West New Britain following improved weather conditions, although extraction rates continue to come under pressure from the carryover effect of the preceding months,” he said.
“We, therefore, expect to return to normal production and extraction rates next year, barring any adverse weather events.”