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Statoil Turns To Profit In Q4, Lifts Dividend; Sees Production Growth Ahead

Norwegian energy firm Statoil ASA (STO) reported Wednesday that its fourth-quarter IFRS net income was $2.6 billion, compared to last year's loss of $2.8 billion.

Adjusted earnings were $4.0 billion in the fourth quarter, up from $1.7 billion in the same period in 2016. Adjusted earnings after tax were $1.3 billion, compared to loss of $40 million a year ago.

The company noted that higher prices and continued solid operational performance, with record high production, contributed to the increase. In addition, lower exploration expenses contributed positively.

IFRS net operating income was $5.2 billion, compared to negative $1.9 billion in the same period of 2016. The IFRS result was impacted by net impairment reversals of $1.6 billion, mainly related to a US onshore asset.

Statoil delivered equity production of 2,134 mboe per day in the fourth quarter, higher than 2,095 mboe per day in 2016, primarily due to higher flexible gas production to capture higher prices, increased production US onshore and ramp-up of new fields.

Further, the board of directors proposed to the annual general meeting to increase the dividend by 4.5% to $0.23 per share, for the fourth quarter.

Eldar Sætre, President and CEO of Statoil ASA, said, "We expect long-term underlying earnings growth, and in line with our dividend policy the board proposes to increase the dividend by 4.5% to USD 0.23 per share."

Looking ahead, Statoil announced its updated outlook for 2018-2020. The company expects organic capex of around $11 billion in 2018, and expects 1-2% production growth in 2018 and an annual production growth of around 3-4% from 2017 to 2020.

Further, Statoil expects to drill around 40 exploration wells in 2018 with an expected spend of around $1.5 billion.

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