Oil and Gas

Total Q1 beats forecasts on high output, strong margins


French oil and gas major Total reported a better-than-expected net profit in the first quarter of 2016 as high output and a strong performance in refining and chemicals helped limit the impact of a prolonged fall in oil prices.

Net adjusted profit of $1.6 billion fell 37 percent compared with the same quarter in 2015. A Reuters poll of analysts had estimated the company's net adjusted result of $1.2 billion.

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Weak oil prices have hit the whole industry and led a day ago to U.S. giant Exxon Mobil losing its Standard & Poor's top credit rating for the first time in almost 70 years.

Total said its hydrocarbons production for the first quarter of the year rose by 4 percent to 2.479 million barrels of oil equivalent per day compared with the same quarter last year, a level in the quarter last seen ten years ago.

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It added that in its downstream segment, although refining margins were down compared with 2015, the business had held up well and remained strong at the beginning of the second quarter.

"Refining & Chemicals improved its results compared to 2015 despite the decrease in refining margins to $35 per tonne, thanks to a record high utilization rate of 94 percent and favourable petrochemicals margins," Total's Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne said in a statement.

The company proposed to maintain its dividend unchanged at 0.61 euros per share, payable through cash and scrip scheme.

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