French oil giant Total suffered a decline in profits during a first quarter marked by a major North Sea discovery – and industrial action on its platforms.
Adjusted net income sank 4% to £2.2 billion in the first three months of the year, despite a 9% rise in production to 2.9 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day.
Total attributed the production increase to the start-up and ramp-up of new projects in Russia, Australia, Angola and Nigeria.
The company also benefitted from the integration assets of acquired through the takeover of Maersk Oil, completed last year.
That acquisition handed Total operatorship of the huge Culzean gas project, which is expected to come on stream in the UK North Sea this year.
But Total chief executive Patrick Pouyanne said the oil market remained volatile, with Brent crude averaging $63 per barrel in Q1, 6% lower than in the same period last year.
Nonetheless, sales rose 3% to £40bn during the period under review, which saw Total and project partners announce the biggest UK gas find in more than a decade.
Total said in January that Glengorm, which is located 118 miles east of Aberdeen, in a licence operated by Chinese firm Cnooc International, could produce 250m boe.
Total holds a 25% stake in Glengorm, alongside operator Cnooc and Euroil, a wholly owned subsidiary of Italian energy company Edison, which own 50% and 25% respectively.
Also during the quarter, workers employed by Petrofac and Aker Solutions went on strike on three of Total’s North Sea platforms in a dispute over rotas, though production was not interrupted on Alwyn, Dunbar and Elgin.
Unions called a halt to industrial action at the end of March after workers accepted new contracts.
Total’s other North Sea interests include the producing Laggan-Tormore and Glenlivet-Edradour gas fields, the Glendronach discovery, all west of Shetland, and the Shetland Gas Plant.