Revenue during the period totalled HK$48.37 billion ($6.17 billion), up 0.6% from the corresponding period a year earlier, and the profit attributable to shareholders rose 16.4% to HK$3.55 billion, the company said in a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Of its total gas sales of 19.84 billion cubic metres (bcm), the residential sector led the growth with sales volumes up 12% on the year at 5.4 bcm, followed by the commercial sector, up 6.9%.

Industrial gas sales, the biggest sector user accounting for nearly 47% of the total, rose 4.9% year-on-year to 9.31 bcm.

The company also said it added 1.34 million residential users during the period.

On Thursday, privately controlled gas distributor ENN Energy reported a 6.9% decline in total gas sales volumes which the company attributed to high gas prices and subdued domestic demand.

Industry officials and analysts expected revenue and profits at city-gas utilities like ENN and China Resources to benefit from recent reforms to residential gas prices.

Since June, more than 30 Chinese cities and several provinces have taken steps to liberalise residential natural gas pricing, allowing prices to rise and enabling distributors to more evenly pass on procurement costs to households.

($1 = 7.8430 Hong Kong dollars)

($1 = 7.8407 Hong Kong dollars)

(Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Susan Fenton)