Total reports quarterly profit leap, but underlying figure falls

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PARIS  (AFP) – French oil group Total reported a 71.0-percent jump in net profit in the first quarter on Wednesday, compared with results a year ago which were hit by an exceptional charge.

The outcome amounted to $3.33 billion (2.4 billion euros) from $1.95 billion a year ago.
But the results, presented in dollars for the first time, and on an adjusted basis which is the benchmark for the oil industry, fell by 10.0 percent to $3.27 billion.

Chief executive Christophe de Margerie said that the performance was “solid” even though it was slightly lower than the result for 2013, excluding exceptional items.

In the first quarter of last year, the group took a charge of $1.6 billion on its withdrawal from a shale-sand oil project in Canada undermined by the rise of shale oil from underground resources.

In the first quarter of this year, sales amounted to $60.68 billion, showing a fall of 5.0 percent.
Net adjusted operating profit fell by 8.0 percent to $3.70 billion.

Margerie said that the effects of a steep worsening of refining margins in Europe had been contained by steps to improve performance in the company’s refining activities.

But since the beginning of the second quarter of this year, refining margins had improved from exceptionally low levels in the first quarter, and the refining climate in the United States remained favourable.

Production of hydrocarbons (mainly oil and gas) fell by 6.0 percent to 2.179 million barrels per day, but this was mainly because of the ending of a production licence in the United Arab Emirates and the disposal of an asset in Trinidad and Tobago.

Problems for security of operations in Libya and Nigeria had also caused a reduction of output.
In the second quarter, production would be affected by a high level of seasonal maintenance mainly in Britain, Norway and Thailand, the company said.
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