* Q1 adj net down 10 pct at $3.3 billion
* Oil & gas output down to 2.179 mln boepd in Q1
* Books $350 mln depreciation charge on Russian project
* Says European refining margins start to recover in Q2
(Adds details, background, shares, analyst)
By Michel Rose
PARIS, April 30 French oil major Total
reported a 10 percent drop in first-quarter net profit on
Wednesday, dragged down like its rivals by shrinking margins at
its European refineries and a drop in oil and gas output.
Security issues hurt output from Libya and Nigeria while in
the United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi in January took over control
of oilfields that had been run by oil majors such as Total for
The group also booked a $350 million depreciation charge on
a Russian Arctic gas project it hoped to develop with Gazprom
but shelved due to the huge costs.
Total shares were down 1.3 percent in early trade,
underperforming the European oil and gas index and rival
Shell which was up 3 percent despite booking a $2.9
billion charge related to refineries in Europe and Asia.
Shell said was it was in the process of divesting refineries
in four countries.
"The miss came from the downstream business," said Bernstein
analysts in a note on Total. "Upstream net income per barrel was
$15.8/boe versus expectations for $14.3/boe due to higher equity
income (from affiliates Novatek and Angola LNG)."
Total said this month that European first-quarter refining
margins had fallen to a four-year low.
"The impact of sharply lower European refining margins was
limited thanks to the implementation of performance improvement
plans by the segment," Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie
said in a statement.
The economic slowdown has hit European oil demand in the
past few years, leaving refineries operating at overcapacity.
Total said European margins had started to recover in the
second quarter, but expected maintenance at its German and Dutch
refineries in Leuna and Vlissingen to hit output.
In the upstream, the group said it expected the start-up of
the big CLOV project in Angola at the end of June, and the
coming on stream of the Laggan-Tormore field in Scotland and
Nigeria's Ofon Phase 2 in the second half of the year.
The group also said it would soon start drilling in
promising new fields in Brazil, the Kwanza basin in Angola and
deep offshore Ivory Coast, where it struck oil earlier this
"Total is now entering an exciting period for exploration
with a series of frontier wells to be drilled through the next
two quarters," Bernstein analysts said.
Total gave the go-ahead to another Angolan investment this
month, Kaombo, the latest in a series of African projects meant
to help it meet its 2015 and 2017 production targets of 2.6
million and 3 million boepd respectively.
The loss of the ADCO licence in Abu Dhabi in January removed
about 140,000 barrels per day, pushing production down 5.5
percent, while security issues in Libya and Nigeria lowered
output by 1.5 percent.
A one-percent output rise from start-ups and lower
maintenance meant production was down 6 percent overall versus
the same quarter last year.
A 4-percent drop in Brent crude prices and exploration
charges up about 20 percent year on year also weighed on net
adjusted profit, which was down 10 percent to $3.3 billion in
the first quarter, it said.
Non-adjusted net profit was up 71 percent due to a large
impairment charge on a Canadian project booked in the first
quarter of last year.
Total kept its quarterly dividend at 0.61 euros per share,
level from the previous quarter.
(Additional reporting by Sarah Young in London; Editing by
David Holmes and Jason Neely)