* Q3 adj net profit up 20 pct to 3.35 bln euros
* CFO sees production down slightly in 2012 vs 2011
* CFO sees Elgin restart by end-2012 or "early 2013"
(Adds analyst comment, shares)
By Michel Rose
PARIS, Oct 31 Total said oil and gas
output would fall slightly this year, hit by attacks on
pipelines and a gas leak in the North Sea, after an
industry-wide jump in refining margins lifted quarterly profit.
The third-quarter result from western Europe's No. 3 oil
company on Wednesday followed the pattern of big global rivals
that have already reported, including UK-based BP.
Total and other European refiners benefited from a temporary
widening between the price of crude and the selling price of
their fuels, thanks mainly to refinery closures in the United
States and Europe.
However, weak oil demand in Europe means the windfall should
Total struggled to keep production of oil and gas - the long
term driver of industry profits - at year-ago levels.
The French company reported a 20 percent rise in
third-quarter net adjusted profit to 3.35 billion euros ($4.4
billion) on Wednesday, beating the 3.12 billion euros analysts
had forecast. In dollar terms, profits were up 6 percent
Its output of oil and gas fell 2 percent to 2.27 million
barrels of oil equivalent.
For 2012 as a whole, oil and gas production will be down
slightly compared with the year before, Chief Financial Officer
Patrick de la Chevardiere said in a conference call with
analysts, as output was hit by rebel attacks on pipelines in
Nigeria and Yemen.
Total said it may push back the date to restart production
at the Elgin Franklin platform in the North Sea after a gas leak
in May. The company had aimed to restart production there by the
end of the year, but de la Chevardiere said that target could
slip to early 2013.
Shares in Total were up 0.7 percent by 1615 GMT,
outperforming a 1 percent decline in the European oil and gas
Total offers the prospect of healthy longer-term growth in
volumes and cash flows, but this is unlikely to be reflected in
its share price in the short term, analysts at Canaccord Genuity
"While the dividend yield should keep Total attractive for
some investors ... we recommend switching into the likes of BP,
Royal Dutch Shell or Statoil," they said in a
note to clients.
Total said the proceeds from asset sales since the beginning
of the year had reached about $5 billion, including the sale of
the group's remaining shares in pharmaceutical company Sanofi
($1 = 0.7705 euros)
(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Andrew Callus and Erica