Carola Hoyos Total’s earnings beat rivals, but production disappoints

Total, the French oil company, blamed Opec cuts for its disappointing production results today, while listing a slew of big projects that are expected to start up and boost its production by the end of the year. Those projects include: Apko in Nigeria, Tahiti in the Gultf of Mexico, Tombua Landana in Angola and liquefied natural gas ventures in Yemen and Qatar. But shareholders, who have enjoyed a better recent ride at Total than those at the company’s rivals, were nevertheless disappointed. Total’s production fell more than 2 per centage points and, as if in sympathy, its share price also lost more than 2 per cent on the news. This, even though its first quarter earnings – down 35 per cent from the same period the year before – beat estimates and its peers BP and Royal Dutch Shell.

Total’s first quarter adjusted net profit fell to E2.11bn from E3.25bn the year before as its sales fell to E30.04bn from E44.21bn.

The oil price was the major culprit, with Brent trading at $44.50 a barrel, down 54 per cent compared to the same period in 2008 and down 20 per cent compared to the end of last year.