By Kjetil Malkenes Hovland
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
OSLO -(Dow Jones)- Norwegian oil giant Statoil ASA (STO) said Tuesday it expects capital expenditures of around $17 billion in 2012, as it posted lower first-quarter earnings on the year.
The reduction was mainly due to one-off sales gains a year earlier as well as higher taxes, and was partly offset by higher net operating income.
Statoil's oil and gas production rose by 11.3% to 2.193 million barrels of oil equivalent a day in the first quarter, from 1.971 million barrels a day in the same period of 2011, helped by the start-up of production from Peregrino in Brazil, Pazflor in Angola and Gullfaks South Brent offshore Norway, as well as production from the Bakken field in the U.S. and higher gas sales from the Oseberg, Kvitebjorn and Troll fields.
Net profit in the three months to March 31 was 15.12 billion Norwegian kroner ($2.61 billion), compared with NOK15.98 billion a year earlier, and beating estimates of NOK14.99 billion.
"Statoil grew production by 11% and realised high oil and gas prices in the first quarter of 2012, generating strong financial results for the period," said Chief Executive Helge Lund in a statement, adding that production was as expected, and that the company maintains its guidance for 2012.
The company estimated equity production for 2012 to grow by around 3% compound annual growth rate, or CAGR, based on the actual 2010 equity production.
"Deferred gas production to create value, gas off-take, timing of new capacity coming on stream and operational regularity represent the most significant downside risks," Statoil said.
The company said it "has an ambition" to produce above 2.5 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2020, expecting 2% to 3% annual growth from new prospects in the period from 2014 to 2016, and 3% to 4% annual growth from projects on stream from 2016 to 2020.
The 2013 production is expected to be around the 2012 level, the company said.
Statoil expects to complete around 40 wells in 2012, with an exploration level similar to the 2011 level at around $3 billion, excluding signature bonuses.
Statoil continues to benefit from high oil prices, up about 12% on the year for North Sea Brent crude.
In the first quarter, Statoil made another discovery in the PL532 license in the Barents Sea, Havis, in the same license as the 2011 Skrugard discovery. The Havis discovery was estimated to hold 200 million to 300 million barrels of recoverable oil equivalents.
Shares closed Monday at NOK150.70, valuing the company at NOK480.5 billion, up 3.1% from six months ago.
-By Kjetil Malkenes Hovland, Dow Jones Newswires: +47 902 27 908; email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 08, 2012 02:40 ET (06:40 GMT)
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