//= bu('dist/style.css') ?>
Most of the funds were invested in the field of exploration and production of oil and gas, as well as in completion of the ‘Bottom of the barrel’ project, the construction of a new plant in Oil Refinery in Pančevo. Also, in this reporting period, the construction of a thermal power and heating plant (TE-TO) Pančevo started in Pančevo, a project NIS realises in partnership with Gazprom Energoholding. Staying committed to introducing modern technologies into its business, NIS also launched a new format of petrol stations in Serbia in the first half of 2019 – a new GAZPROM petrol station was opened on the Belgrade-Niš highway in May, the first in this part of Europe, equipped with state-of-the-art digital technology. In this period, retail sales in Serbia grew by 5%, compared to the first half of 2018, while net foreign asset turnover increased by 9%. In the exploration and production segment, 20 wells were put into operation and 654 km2 3D seismics was carried out at the Ada exploration area in Serbia. NIS continued with a consistent dividend policy, so the Shareholders’ Assembly of the company passed a decision to pay 25% of last year’s net profit as a dividend. The shareholders will be paid 6.5 billion dinars. The financial results of the NIS Group in this period were constrained by macroeconomic factors, negative exchange rates and higher depreciation. The average Brent crude oil price in the reporting period was about 66 dollars, which is 6 percent less than the average price of the first half of last year. Also, the planned turnaround of the Pančevo refinery, in which 2.4 billion dinars were invested, is the most complex turnaround in the history of the company. Simultaneously with the planned turnaround activities, a number of additional tasks have been implemented to connect the existing refinery plants with new plants within the second stage of upgrade of refining capacities – the Bottom of the barrel project. In Q2 2019, net profit of NIS reached 3.1 billion dinars, which is 19 times the profit in Q1 this year. The total net profit for the first six months of 2019 is 3.2 billion dinars. EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) equals 15.9 billion dinars. Tax liabilities and other payments to state budget of the NIS Group in the first half of 2019 amounted to 79.8 billion dinars. The total production of oil and gas is 641 thousand tons of oil equivalent, which is the result above the planned. In the Pančevo Oil Refinery, a total of 1.2 million tons of crude oil and semi-finished products was refined, while the total sales volume of petroleum products in the first half of the year amounted to 1.5 million tons. Improved results were achieved in the HSE (Health, Safety, Environment) area, so the Loss Time Injury Frequency (LTIF) was reduced by 24 percent compared to the previous year. NIS continued to contribute to development of communities in which it operates, so 20 projects supporting health care institutions throughout Serbia were selected within the framework of the “Together for the Community 2019" competition, with NIS investing 116.5 million dinars in domestic health care. Kirill Tyurdenev, the CEO of NIS, stated: “Successful implementation of strategic projects and the continued modernisation are our priorities this year. In this way, we lay firm foundations for the further development of NIS in the conditions of fierce competition on the regional market. At the same time, we remain committed to further improvement of financial results and operational indicators in all business segments. In addition, our irrevocable priorities remain occupational safety and improvement of environmental protection, as the basis of sustainable development for NIS and our concern for the people and the communities in which we operate”.