Oil giant Total says profits sink on low crude price

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

French oil and gas giant Total said Friday it sustained a steep drop in profits in the third quarter as a result of the falling price of crude, but it still managed to remain in the black.

Total said in a statement that its bottom-line net profit plummeted 93% to $202 million in the three months to the end of September.

Adjusted for a number of one-off items, after-tax earnings were down 72% at $849 million, it said.

"After a second quarter in which we faced exceptional circumstances with oil prices falling below $20 per barrel and a very strong slowdown of global activity linked to the health crisis, Total benefited during the third quarter from a more favourable environment," said chief executive Patrick Pouyanne.

Oil prices moved back above $40 thanks to OPEC countries and other oil producing nations sticking to their agreement to curb output and another positive factor was a recovery in demand for petroleum products for road transportation, he said.

Nevertheless, the environment remains "mixed with low natural gas prices and severely depressed refining margins due to excess production capacity relative to demand and high inventories", Pouyanne said.

Total said its own output fell by 11% to 2.715 million barrels per day in the third quarter, largely as a result of the OPEC+ deal aimed at propping up crude prices.

It said it projecting annual output to be below 2.9 million bpd for the whole of 2020.

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