(Updates with CEO comment in fourth paragraph.)
Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Statoil ASA, Norway’s largest oil and natural gas company, said production rose for the first time in five quarters as maintenance finished at North Sea fields and a project started in Angola.
Output climbed to 1.764 million barrels of oil equivalent a day in the third quarter from 1.522 million barrels a year earlier. That beat the 1.745 million-a-day forecast in a Bloomberg survey of six analysts. Profit for the period missed analysts’ expectations as taxes rose.
The state-controlled company reduced maintenance in Norway’s offshore fields and boosted output at the Pazflor field in Angola, the Peregrino field in Brazil and Canadian oil sands. Statoil today announced a discovery at the Logan prospect in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, showing further exploration success after making the world’s the biggest find this year at the Aldous- Avaldsnes prospect in the North Sea.
“Given what we’ve done with Brigham, Eagle Ford and our success at Aldous-Avaldsnes, the resource situation at Statoil is much, much better than it was five years ago,” Helge Lund, Statoil’s chief executive officer, said in an interview. “Statoil’s resource bank is rising steadily.”
Net income fell to 10.4 billion kroner ($1.9 billion), or 3.27 kroner a share, from 13.8 billion kroner, or 4.34 kroner, a year earlier, the Stavanger-based company said today. That missed the 12.4 billion-krone average estimate in a survey of 14 analysts. Operating income increased 39 percent to 39.3 billion kroner.
Statoil rose as much as 2.5 percent and traded at 145.1 kroner as of 9:55 a.m. in Oslo. The shares have gained 4.6 percent this year.
Statoil’s average oil prices climbed to $107.50 a barrel from $73.80. The company’s realized gas prices rose to 1.97 kroner a standard cubic meter from 1.74 kroner a year earlier.
Norway’s oil output has halved since 2000. Statoil operates about 80 percent of the country’s oil and gas production, and the so-called reserves replacement ratio hasn’t been above 100 percent since 2004. Lund said the company would start replacing more reserves than it produces within the next five years.
“Their results were a little weaker than expected, primarily internationally, but I believe the focus will be on the 14 percent increase in production year-on-year after four weak quarters,” Trond Omdal, an Oslo-based Arctic Securities analyst with a “buy” rating, said in an e-mailed response to questions today.
The Pazflor field in Angola started in August and Statoil’s 23 percent share will yield 47,000 barrels a day when plateau production in reached early next year.
Delays in the start-up of BP Plc’s Skarv field in the Norwegian Sea at the end of the first quarter will impact Statoil’s production by 15,000 barrels a day in this quarter and by an undetermined amount in the first quarter, Lund said, adding that the company was maintaining its output guidance for 2011 and 2012.
Lund said he did not know when the company’s production in Libya would resume,’’ though the country doesn’t provide “significant volumes” for the company.
Statoil this month announced the $4.4 billion acquisition of Brigham Exploration Co., expanding its stake in U.S. unconventional assets and becoming one of the top 10 holders of Bakken shale acreage. Statoil entered U.S. shale gas resources in 2008 by buying $3.38 billion in assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. and in June bought Eagle Ford shale acreage from SM Energy Co.
Statoil targets equity production of 2.5 million barrels a day by 2020, up from 1.9 million barrels a day in 2010, a goal that has been strengthened by this year’s Aldous-Avaldsnes oil discovery in the North Sea.
Statoil’s Aldous Major South is linked to Lundin Petroleum AB’s Aldous find. The combined deposit is estimated to hold recoverable resources of 1.7 billion to 3.3 billion barrels of oil equivalent, which would be the world’s largest offshore find this year. The company also made discoveries at the Skrugard prospect in the Barents Sea and at Peregrino South in Brazil.
--With assistance from Brian Swint in London. Editors: Alex Devine, Stephen Cunningham
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