The state-owned company did not report annual profits but said in a statement that its turnover accounted for one fifth of the country's annual economic output and was 31 percent higher than in 2007.

PetroVietnam also said it earned 11.15 billion dollars from exports, an increase of 26.7 percent over last year's overseas sales.

Vietnam is rich in offshore oil reserves located in the South China Sea, where PetroVietnam - together with Russian and other foreign partners - exploits several major fields, mostly in the Nam Con Son and Cuu Long basins.

The largest oil-producing company is Vietsovpetro, a joint venture of PetroVietnam and Russia's Zarubezhneft, which exploits the Bach Ho (White Tiger) field, the largest of at least nine offshore oil fields.

PetroVietnam has also formed partnerships with companies from about a dozen other countries, including BP, ConocoPhillips and Malaysia's Petronas.

PetroVietnam, the trading name of the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group, said it discovered five new oil and gas sources in 2008 and signed 15 contracts, mostly with foreign partners including from Russia and Venezuela.

Also Tuesday, PetroVietnam and the State Capital Investment Corporation of Vietnam announced a partnership deal to jointly enter as majority stakeholders into other ventures with foreign companies at home and abroad.

The Southeast Asian country of 86 million people has no oil refining capacity and imports refined petroleum products for domestic needs, but the Dung Quat refinery in central Vietnam is due to become operational next year.

Estimates of Vietnam's crude oil reserves vary widely.

According to industry publication the Oil and Gas Journal, Vietnam had about 600 million barrels of proven oil reserves in early 2007.

World oil prices soared to record highs of above 147 dollars a barrel in July but have dropped off sharply since. New York crude plunged earlier this month to below 33 dollars, its lowest point for almost five years.

In Asian trade Tuesday oil prices remained above 40 dollars a barrel.

Agence France Presse - December 31, 2008