Statoil earnings fall despite sales increase

(AP) - Norway's Statoil saw third-quarter earnings sink 6 percent compared to a year ago due to falling natural gas prices, higher expenses, and charges on refineries, the oil giant said Wednesday.

The company said earnings for the three-month period amounted to 13.7 billion kronor ($2.3 billion), helped by a $2.6 billion sale in four North Sea oil fields, while total sales were nearly 170 billion kronor ($28.8 billion), a 2 percent increase compared with the third quarter last year.

The negative impact of declining prices was more visible over the first nine months of 2013 up to October, with revenues falling 15 percent year-on-year to 480 billion kronor ($81 billion) and earnings plummeting 57 percent to 24.5 billion kronor ($4.1 billion).

The average price for liquids fell 4 percent over the nine months compared to the same period last year, while invoiced gas prices were down 10 percent, Statoil said.

Still, the company managed a 2 percent uptick in third quarter production, reaching 1.8 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. The company attributed the increase to new fields coming online and boosting output at others that are already operational.

"We are producing as planned...and our activity level is high," CEO Helge Lund said in a statement. "Statoil delivered strong strategic progress in the third quarter."

The company has set a long-term goal of reaching 2.5 million barrels per day by 2020.

The Stavanger-based company says the third quarter yielded strong exploration results after the discovery of new offshore fields near Canada and on the Norwegian continental shelf.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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