Top Stories
Top Stories

Energy giants' earnings slump on low oil prices

Low prices, low margins to continue: Statoil CEO

Norwegian energy giant Statoil posted a slump in second-quarter earnings on Wednesday, as low oil prices continued to weigh on the industry.

Statoil reported net operating income of $180 million and adjusted earnings of $913 million for the second quarter of 2016. Analysts polled by the company had expected adjusted earnings before tax of $1.365 billion, with earnings after tax seen at $313 million.

"The main driver is the continued low oil and gas prices," Statoil CEO Eldar Sætre told CNBC on Wednesday after the earnings release.

Sætre forecast near-term volatility in oil prices, as the market rebalanced from a period of very levels of storage globally.

"In the medium-term, we are very confident we will see a higher price level," he told CNBC.

Oslo-listed shares of Statoil fell by more 3 percent on the day on Wednesday.

The outlook for BP in Q3 is uncertain: Analyst

BP also posted a sharp drop in second-quarter earnings when it reported on Tuesday. It was the first publicly listed oil giant to post results, with Royal Dutch Shell out on Thursday and Exxon Mobil on Friday.

BP's underlying replacement-cost profit came in at $720 million, down from $1.3 billion in the same period in 2015.

"We are delivering significant improvements to the business that will stick at any oil price," BP chief executive, Bob Dudley, said in a news release on Tuesday.

WTI light crude futures for September are up 15 percent since the start of the year, following a partial rebound in prices. However, at below $43 per barrel, they are far off the peaks around $110 reached before the two-year oil rout.

Plus, oil prices have been on a downward run for the last seven weeks.

Energy commodities

Energy Futures Chart

Despite the weak earnings, Statoil will pay a dividend of $0.2201 per ordinary share for the second quarter. BP also announced an unchanged dividend on Tuesday.

"We think it is very important to sustain our dividend," Statoil's Sætre told CNBC on Wednesday.

Statoil also cut capital expenditure guidance for 2016 to $12 billion from $13 billion and exploration guidance to $1.8 billion from $2 billion.

"We see a cost reduction of 80 percent year-on-year," Sætre told CNBC.

Statoil is the largest energy company operating in Norway, controlling 70 percent of the country's oil and natural gas production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.

The company is headquartered in Stavanger, Norway and employs around 22,000 people worldwide. It is also listed on the New York stock exchange.

Statoil CEO: On track with cost reductions

Statoil also posted a steep fall in adjusted earnings in the first quarter, which it attributed to the fall in oil and gas prices.

Shares of Statoil listed on the Oslo stock exchange have rallied nearly 11 percent this year as oil prices recovered some losses, but are roughly 30 percent lower than a peak seen in July 2014, before the commodities rout began.

The company is two-thirds owned by the Norwegian state, with other major investors including the Norwegian Insurance fund, State Street Bank, Northern Trust and the Bank of New York Mellon.

Norway is the world's third-largest exporter of oil and gas after Saudi Arabia and Russia, according to the European Commission. It also produces a large volume of hydroelectric power.

Norwegian oil production has fallen for the last two months, with the country producing 1.8 million barrels of oil, natural gas and condensate in June. This was the lowest monthly output in two years, according to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.

Follow CNBC International on and Facebook.