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Currency gains boost Norway fuel giant Statoil pre-tax profits

Norwegian oil and gas giant Statoil on Monday reported an increase in Q3 pre-tax profits, which it attributed partly to currency gains.

The pre-tax profit was 29.9 billion kroner ($5.57 billion), up 2.1 billion kroner on the same 2006 business period. However, net operating income dropped 26% to 24 billion krone for the quarter on turnover of 109 billion krone ($20.28 billion), which was roughly 1 billion krone more than in the Q3 last year. On October 1, Statoil merged its oil and gas operations with Norsk Hydro so the report presented Monday was the last of its kind from the Stavanger-based group.

Statoil said its average daily oil and gas output during the Q3 2007 was 1,056,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, down 2% on the same business period last year. The drop was mainly attributed to reduced production on the Norwegian continental shelf. The group also reported a rise in exploration spending to 1.8 billion krone (about $335 million), mainly due to drilling of new wells.

Gas prices were on average 15% lower in Q3 2007 measured in Norwegian krone compared to 2006. “We continue to deliver strong financial results,” CEO Helge Lund of Statoil said in a statement. Lund, who also heads the merged StatoilHydro group, said a deal signed last week with Russian gas giant Gazprom to develop part of the huge Shtokman gas field in the Barents Sea was a “milestone”. (m&