India's largest private firm, Reliance Industries, reported nearly flat quarterly net profit Friday, hit by weak margins from refining operations and sliding gas output. But the performance still beat market expectations. The energy giant, controlled by India's wealthiest man Mukesh Ambani, said net profit for the third quarter ending December rose 0.20 percent to 55.11 billion rupees ($888 million), from 55.02 billion rupees in the same period a year earlier. "Reliance's robust refining configuration enabled it to deliver stable refining profits in the third quarter, against a backdrop of declining regional benchmark margins," Ambani said in a statement. Turnover rose 10.5 percent to 1.06 trillion rupees. The earnings exceeded analysts' expectations that Reliance's quarterly profit would decline to 52 billion rupees. Analysts have been concerned in recent months about Reliance's ability to boost gas production from its oil blocks off India's east coast. For the April-December period, crude oil production from Reliance's main oil field KG-D6 fell 38 percent year-on-year to 1.45 million barrels of crude oil, the company statement said. Natural gas production slid 51 percent to 135 billion cubic feet (BCF) over levels a year earlier. Reliance has attributed the fall in production to "geological complexity and natural decline in the fields". Reliance this month said it plans to repair some shut wells at its main KG-D6 basin in an effort to boost output. The company's gross refining margins (GRMs) for the third quarter fell by a fifth or 21 percent to $7.6 a barrel from $9.6 a year earlier. In 2011, British energy giant BP paid $7.2 billion to acquire a 30 percent stake in 21 of Reliance's oil and gas fields. Reliance hopes that BP's deepwater drilling expertise will give the Indian giant the skills to develop hard-to-exploit reserves and find more oil. Reliance operates the world's largest oil-processing complex in Jamnagar, where two adjacent refineries have a combined capacity to process 1.24 million barrels of oil a day.