Total reports firm quarterly results, raises output

French oil group Total reported a 67.0-percent boost to net profit in the second quarter to 2.5 billion euros ($3.3 billion), but said on Friday this was driven mainly by special factors.

The group also reported the biggest increase in production of hydrocarbons for three years.

Excluding non-recurrent items, net profit fell by 3.0 percent to 2.7 billion euros.

But this non-recurrent outcome was slightly higher than the figure of 2.67 billion euros expected by analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

The special factors covered exceptional gains and a favourable effect of stock valuations.

The fall of the underlying profit figure reflected a fall in oil prices on a 12-month basis, although the setback to the results was less than the decline of the oil price.

The average price of Brent quality North Sea oil fell by 5.0 percent between the two comparable periods, from $108 to $102.

The group also reported figures showing that it had withstood pressures in the refining and distribution chains, even though refining margins in Europe fell by 40 percent in the quarter.

The theoretical calculation by the group of margins for the sector in Europe fell to $24.1 per tonne of refined crude oil from $38.2 12 months earlier.

The key feature of the group's performance in the quarter was the expected rise of production of hydrocarbons after more than a year of falling output.

In the quarter, production rose by 1.3 percent to 2.29 million barrels per day, in line with estimates by analysts.

This was the biggest increase since 2010.

The group, which has set a target to produce 3.0 million barrels per day in 2017, did not change its outlook for the production of oil and gas while awaiting the annual revision of prospects, due in September.

Production last year had been cut by various incidents including a leak at the Elgin gas platform in the North Sea which is now operating at half capacity.

The group also said that it was confident of meeting its target of selling assets worth $15-20 billion from 2012 to 2014.

The price of shares in Total was showing a fall of 0.4 percent to 39.84 euros in morning trading. The overall CAC 40 index was up 0.69 percent.

The group has several big projects under way or in view: the Egina offshore field off Nigeria, a possible Yamal liquefied natural gas project in Russian Siberia, and shale hydrocarbon operations at Fort Hill in Canada.