Total 2010 profits soar to 10 bn euros

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French oil giant Total saw its profits soar by a third in 2010 to 10.3 billion euros ($14 billion), driven by recovering crude prices, it said in an earnings statement on Friday.

Net profits were 2.6 billion euros in the fourth quarter alone, up by 23 percent on the same period in 2009 and above analysts' forecasts. Sales for 2010 stood at 159.3 billion euros, up 21 percent.

Total cited oil prices that have risen sharply, in line with a broad strengthening of the world economy. The average price of a barrel of Brent North Sea crude rose by 29 percent in 2010.

Chief executive Christophe de Margerie said the results also reflected an "improvement in the group's performance, with notably production growth of more than four percent."

Total, one of the world's biggest oil firms and the biggest company in France by market capitalisation, said it pumped 2.4 million barrels of oil and gas a day in 2010, up 4.3 percent on the previous year.

It has begun shifting away from refining and last year closed its refinery at Dunkirk in northern France, sparking a big strike.

It said Friday that the volume of its refining was down by seven percent in 2010 but its net profits on those activities rose by 23 percent.

Its huge profits for 2010 were still less than the 13.9 billion euros logged in 2008, before the worst of the global economic crisis, and the 30.46 billion dollars earned last year by the world's biggest oil firm, US giant ExxonMobil.

Total said it plans new upstream projects over the next two years in Russia, Australia, Canada and China, as well as a new project in Angola this year.

© 2011 AFP

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