Total hit by lower oil prices
Europe’s third largest oil company, Total, has posted a 54% drop in third quarter net profits due to weaker oil prices.
In the three months to September, the French oil giant’s profits were €1.9 billion (£1.7 billion), compared with €4.1 billion in the same period a year ago.
However, this was slightly ahead of the €1.8 billion that analysts had predicted.
Although oil prices have increased recently to around the $80 a barrel mark, prices are still way off the peak of $147 set in July 2008.
Over the last week, several oil companies have reported their third quarter profits. Mobil reported a 68% fall in net profit to $4.73 billion, compared with $14.8 billion a year ago.
Exxon, which is the world’s largest oil company, said revenue fell to $82.26 billion compared with $137.7 billion a year earlier and said it had been hit by lower demand since Americans were using less petrol due to the weak economy.
Royal Dutch Shell posted a 73% fall in profits for the third quarter. The company also announced plans to eliminate 5,000 positions.
Meanwhile, Total said third quarter output increased 0.5% to 2.24 million barrels of oil a day compared with the same period a year ago, but said it expects oil production to fall this year.
According to the International Energy Agency, oil demand in developed countries is forecast to shrink by 4.7% this year as a result of the global economic downturn and is expected to grow only 0.1% in 2010.