Equinor is returning an additional $3bn to shareholders, with the Norwegian energy giant enjoying second-quarter profits above expectations.
Its strong profits enabled the company to raise its dividend and share buyback guidance 30 per cent for the year, to a total of around $13 billion from $10 billion announced in February.
Earnings before tax jumped to $17.6bn in the second quarter – up from $4.6 billion a year earlier – powered by soaring gas prices amid continued conflict in Ukraine and Russia squeezing supplies in Europe.
Its quarterly profits beat expectations of $16.9bn, predicted in a poll of 26 analysts compiled by Equinor.
The company also boosted gas supplies to Europe by 18 per cent in the April-June period compared to a year ago.
This makes Norway the continent’s largest supplier of piped natural gas with Russia cutting deliveries in retaliation to Western sanctions – including halving already-reduced gas flows on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline from 40 to 20 per cent.
Chief Executive Anders Opedal said: “Equinor has become Europe’s most important supplier of energy during this conflict, making it essential that we provide reliable operations.”
The company revealed it now plans share buybacks of $6 billion in 2022, up from a previous projection of $5 billion.
Majority state-owned Equinor is the first European oil company to publish its second-quarter results, with Shell, TotalEnergies and Centrica reporting their results on Thursday,
Equinor’s overall oil and gas production was broadly unchanged year-on-year, at two million barrels of oil equivalent per day, as its international output fell.
The company maintained its full-year production guidance of a two per cent increase from 2021.
Meanwhile, its net debt has headed further into negative territory, meaning that the company had more cash and financial investments at hand than gross debts.
Equinor pulled out of Russia earlier this year following the invasion of Ukraine, booking a $1.1bn impairment in the first quarter.
It has also stopped trading in Russian oil.