French oil major Total’s Q1 profits lifted by record production

Total produced 2.703 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in the first quarter, driven by ramp-ups and new acquisitions, up more than 5 percent compared to the same period in 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 26 April 2018
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French oil major Total’s Q1 profits lifted by record production

  • Net adjusted profit came in at $2.9 billion, beating analysts’ forecast of $2.77 billion in the quarter
  • Total expects to exceed its 6 percent production target for 2018

PARIS: Record output and high oil prices helped French oil and gas major Total report a consensus-beating rise in net adjusted profit during the first three months of the year, with Total adding it would surpass its production target for 2018.
Total’s earnings echoed a similarly robust set of results from Royal Dutch Shell which also posted higher Q1 profits on Thursday.
Total produced 2.703 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) in the first quarter, driven by ramp-ups and new acquisitions, up more than 5 percent compared to the same period in 2017, and above analysts’ estimates of 2.663 million boe/d.
It said the ramp-up of production from new projects such as Yamal LNG in Russia and Moho Nord in Congo, along with newly acquired assets, including Maersk Oil and Al-Shaheen in Qatar, had enabled it to reach record production during the quarter.
It marked Total’s highest output ever recorded in a quarter, surpassing a previous record of 2.66 million boe/d in 2003.
Net adjusted profit came in at $2.9 billion, beating analysts’ forecast of $2.77 billion in the quarter.
“Oil prices continued to rebound in the first quarter 2018,” said Total’s Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne in a statement.
“Brent rose to an average of $67 per barrel, supported by strong demand, OPEC-non-OPEC compliance and geopolitical tensions,” he also said.
“Cash flow after organic investments increased to $2.8 billion, up by more than 50 percent from a year ago, thanks to good operational performance and continued spending discipline,” added Pouyanne.
Total said it expected to exceed its 6 percent production target for 2018 thanks to the start-ups and ramp-ups of new projects, such as Kashagan in Kazakhstan, Kaombo in Angola and Ichthys in Australia, later in the year.
It said this would support its target of 5 percent per year on average output growth between 2016 and 2022, even though Total noted that the global environment remained volatile with persistent uncertainty around the evolution of global supply.
Total also said it would continue to exercise discipline on its cost base.
It maintained 2018 investments at $15-$17 billion, with an operating expense target of $5.5 per barrel of oil equivalent. It said cost reduction plans were ongoing, with an objective of over $4 billion in 2018.
Total said it will raise first quarter interim dividend by 3.2 percent, while Scrip shares issued in January for the second 2017 interim dividend were bought back to prevent dilution.
“In addition, the group bought back a further $300 million of shares to return to shareholders part of the benefit realized from higher oil prices,” Pouyanne said.
The company said in February that it planned to buy back up to $5 billion of stock over 2018-2020 to share the benefits of higher oil prices with investors.


Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

Updated 20 October 2018
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Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

  • Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change
  • Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983

BAGUINEDA: When rice farmers started producing yields nine times larger than normal in the Malian desert near the famed town of Timbuktu a decade ago, a passerby could have mistaken the crop for another desert mirage.
Rather, it was the result of an engineering feat that has left experts in this impoverished nation in awe — but one that has yet to spread widely through Mali’s farming community.
“We must redouble efforts to get political leaders on board,” said Djiguiba Kouyaté, a coordinator in Mali for German development agency GIZ.
With hunger a constant menace, Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change.

 

Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983. It involves planting fewer seeds of traditional rice varieties and taking care of them following a strict regime.
Seedlings are transplanted at a very young age and spaced widely. Soil is enriched with organic matter, and must be kept moist, though the system uses less water than traditional rice farming.
Up to 20 million farmers now use SRI in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast, said Norman Uphoff, of the SRI International Network and Resources Center at Cornell University in the US.
But, despite its success, the technique has been embraced with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Uphoff said that is because it competes with the improved hybrid and inbred rice varieties that agricultural corporations sell.
For Faliry Boly, who heads a rice-growing association, the prospect of rice becoming a “white gold” for Mali should spur on authorities and farmers to adopt rice intensification.
The method could increase yields while also offering a more environmentally-friendly alternative, including by replacing chemical fertilizers with organic ones, he said.
He also pointed out that rice intensification naturally lends itself to Mali’s largely arid climate.

FACTOID

Up to 20 million farmers now use rice intensification in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast.