Norway’s Equinor on Thursday posted a higher-than-expected profit for the first quarter, albeit well below last year’s record levels, amid a sharp fall in natural gas prices.
The Norwegian oil and gas producer’s adjusted earnings before interest and tax for January-March fell to £9.5bn from £14.3bn a year earlier, beating the £8.9bn predicted in a poll of 26 analysts compiled by Equinor.
“Equinor delivered strong earnings and cash flow across the business and remains a safe and reliable provider of energy to Europe,” chief executive Anders Opedal said in a statement.
The company maintained its guidance for production and capital expenditure and kept its dividend unchanged.
The majority state-owned company last year became Europe’s largest supplier of natural gas as Russia’s Gazprom cut deliveries in response to the West’s support for Ukraine, sending European gas prices to all-time highs.
Equinor’s adjusted operating profit for the January-March period was also down from the £12bn in the fourth quarter.
Equinor said its average gas sales price to Europe had declined by 37 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter while the price of oil was down by 24 per cent.
The group’s oil and gas production stood at 2.13m barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed) in the first quarter, slightly up from 2.1m a year ago as a ramp-up at fields such as Johan Sverdrup Phase 2 and Snoehvit in Norway, as well as Peregrino in Brazil, compensated for depletion elsewhere.
Gas volumes represented more than 55 per cent of the total production, “contributing to European energy security”, the company said.
Equinor’s full-year adjusted operating profit surged to a record £59.7bn in 2022, more than doubling from the previous high in 2008.
Equinor’s share price is down 16.6 per cent year-to-date, underperforming a 4.2 per cent decline in European petroleum stocks.
Reuters – Nerijus Adomaitis