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Total's Second-Quarter Profit Little Changed

Oil company Total said Thursday that second-quarter net profit was little changed as improved refinery margins failed to offset the weaker dollar.

Net income declined 1% to 3.41 billion euros ($4.66 billion) from 3.44 billion euros ($4.7 billion) in the same period a year ago, said Total, the world's fourth-largest publicly traded oil company.

"Oil prices rebounded to high levels approaching those that we saw in 2006," Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie said in a statement accompanying the quarterly results.

"However, natural gas prices fell to lower levels in some markets. Refining margins in Europe were stronger."

Total said it expects returns from the development of new fields, exploration efforts and negotiations with large national oil companies which "strengthens the outlook for profitable growth for the coming years and for the very long term."

In the second quarter, Gazprom announced a decision to partner with Total at the Arctic offshore field Shtokman, which could become a future source of liquefied natural gas for North America. The field is estimated to contain as much as 3.7 trillion cubic meters of gas.

Total also said it started new projects in Algeria, Nigeria, Angola and Qatar, and made major discoveries in the Republic of Congo and Angola.

In the second quarter, average production grew 1.4% to 2.32 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, the company said.

A ramp up in activity from Total's 240,000 barrel-a-day Dalia field facility in Angola was partially offset by the shutdown of the Nkossa platform in the Republic of Congo following an accident.

Total's adjusted net income, which strips out special items and charges related to the Sanofi-Aventis merger, fell 8% to 3.10 billion euros ($4.24 billion) from 3.36 billion euros ($4.59 billion) in the second quarter of 2006.

Revenue fell 4% to 39.1 billion euros ($53.41 billion) from 40.9 billion euros ($55.9 billion).

Oil Companies Report Mixed Results

The world's major oil companies have reported mixed results for the first quarter, with profits flat at Exxon Mobil , down at Royal Dutch Shell , and up at BP .

Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, said last week its second-quarter profit fell 1% from a year ago as lower natural gas prices and production declines hurt results.

Weak demand for natural gas in Europe continued to hamper results. But like some of its competitors, Exxon Mobil said it got a big lift from higher global refining and marketing margins.

Royal Dutch Shell, based in The Hague, Netherlands, said net profit rose 18% in the second quarter to $8.67 billion. BP, one of Europe's biggest oil companies, reported a 1.5% increase in second quarter profit.

Total shares fell 1.5% to close at 57.39 ($78.66) on Wednesday in Paris.

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