French oil major Total SA (NYSE: TOT – $58.02) said third-quarter net profit rose 48% from last year, supported by higher oil prices with Brent crude around $75/bbl. Sales also improved to $54.7 billion from $43.04 billion. Adjusted net profit rose to $3.96 billion, slightly over analyst expectations of $3.89 billion, thanks to strong performance from the exploration and production division as production got underway at new projects in Australia, while engineering studies were started on a petrochemical investment in Saudi Arabia. On a per share basis, adjusted earnings settled at $1.47 vs. $1.04 last year and compared to most estimates of $1.40. Production rose to 2.8 million barrels of oil equivalent a day in the period, 8.6% higher than a year ago amid project start-ups including Kaombo in Angola; Ichthys LNG in Australia; and the second train of Yamal LNG in Russia. Net operating profit in exploration and production nearly doubled to $2.86 billion, while gas, renewables and power surged 180%. Refining and chemicals operating profit contracted by 8% to $938 million while marketing and services was down 6%. Refining margins in Europe were highly volatile in the quarter because of both higher oil prices and seasonal effects on demand.
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