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The Guardian: Total Q4 profit up 14 percent, flags strong growth

Reuters Wednesday February 13 2008 (Adds details)

PARIS, Feb 13 (Reuters) – French oil giant Total posted a forecast-beating 14 percent rise in fourth-quarter adjusted net profit on Wednesday, saying record oil prices and slightly higher production offset increased exploration costs.

Total predicted a significant rise in production in 2008 and stuck to its long-term target of increasing oil and gas production by an average 4 percent a year between 2006 and 2010.
The fourth-biggest western oil major earned an adjusted net profit — stripping out one-off items and changes in the value of inventory — of 3.107 billion euros in the final quarter.

This was up from 2.737 billion euros in the year-ago period and beat the 3.051 billion euro average forecast of nine analysts polled by Reuters.

For the full year 2007, Total reported a total adjusted net profit of 12.203 billion euros, down 3 percent from 12.585 billion in 2006 after a weak first half, and announced an 11 percent rise in full-year dividend of 2.07 euros.

Total bucked an industry-wide trend of falling oil and gas output, raising production by 2.4 percent to a fourth quarter average of 2.461 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. The start-up of new projects helped compensate for disruptions in Nigeria and lower volumes from production-sharing agreements.

Surging oil prices — which averaged $88.8 a barrel in the fourth quarter for U.S. crude, up 43 percent year on year — has proved a double-edged sword for oil majors such as Total as they automatically reduce the amount of oil they are entitled to in production-sharing agreements with producer countries.

Production rose by far less than the 7 percent growth Total had initially targeted for 2007, though the group still outshone rivals Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and BP, which all saw oil and gas output fall last year.

The French company also announced a $2.2 billion project to to expand its Port Arthur refinery in Texas.

(Reporting by Marie Maitre, Barbara Lewis)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/feedarticle?id=7305667

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