France's Total reports strong profits in 2012

French oil giant Total reported on Wednesday an 8.0-percent rise in net profit to 12.4 billion euros ($16.7 billion) in 2012, excluding the change in value of oil in stock.

This is the measure, known as the current-cost accounting basis, which is most closely watched in the oil sector.

Net profit on an overall basis, the historic-cost method, fell by 13.0 percent to 10.7 billion euros.

The statement said that a fall in production had been counter-balanced by high oil prices and a temporary rally of margins for refiners in Europe.

The results were in line with forecasts by analysts who had expected a net profit on a current-cost accounting basis of 12.4 billion euros.

Oil prices were high last year owing largely to tension over supplies from Iran which is the target of economic sanctions against its nuclear programme.

These high prices offset a drop in Total's overall hydrocarbon output which fell 2.0 percent in 2012 to 2.3 million barrels per day in oil equivalent.

The company said it was targeting a 2 to 3 percent boost in output for 2013, which chief executive Christophe de Margerie said would require a special effort.

The group said it was well advanced in an asset divestment programme set to unload between 15 and 20 billion dollars by 2014.

Total expects to shed assets worth $9 billion in 2013, after ceding about $6 billion in 2012.

Total is Western Europe's third biggest oil producer, behind Shell and BP, and France's biggest company by market capitalisation, just ahead of former subsidiary Sanofi, the drugmaker.

Total's shares were up by 0.20 percent in afternoon trading on Wednesday, slightly lower than a Paris market rising by 0.36 percent.