A production boost delivered by the Culzean gas field in the UK North Sea was not enough to prevent income dropping at French oil giant Total in the third quarter of 2019.
Paris-headquartered Total fired up the £3.5 billion Culzean field in June, helping the business raise its output by 8% to just over 3 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day.
Production growth should reach 9% for the full year, buoyed by this month’s start-up of the Equinor operated Johan Sverdrup field offshore Norway, in which Total holds a 8.44% stake.
Culzean, 140 miles east of Aberdeen, was discovered in 2008 and holds 250-300m boe. It is expected to pump out 100,000 boe per day, making it one of the North Sea’s biggest fields.
Total, which has a base in Westhill, near Aberdeen, took over the huge project following its £5.8bn acquisition of Danish firm Maersk Oil last year.
Operator Total holds as 49.99% interest in Culzean, partner BP has 32% and JX Nippon is on 18.01%.
Total’s production stats for the quarter were also boosted by the recent start-up and ramp-up of projects in Russia, Australia, Angola and Nigeria.
But Brent crude prices averaged $62 per barrel in third quarter of 2019, down 18% compared to the same period a year earlier, while gas prices were down by 55%.
Total’s third-quarter, adjusted net income was £2.34bn, down 24% year-on-year, while sales decreased 11% to £37.7bn.
Patrick Pouyanne, chief executive of Total, said the group had achieved “solid results” despite the reduction in oil prices, mainly caused by trade tensions between China and the US.
The company said the environment “remained volatile”, with uncertainty about oil and gas demand growth.
During the reporting period, Total announced the £500m sale of a package of North Sea assets to Petrogas Neo, a joint venture between Oman’s Petrogas and Norwegian private-equity fund HitecVision.
Total, which employed more than 900 employees on average in the north-east last year, is participating in a number of UK North Sea exploration wells.
It spudded the Isabella well in the central North Sea earlier this month, and is a partner in the Eni-operated Aspen well in the southern North Sea, where drilling got under way on October 14.
Total’s operated UK production comes from its Greater Laggan Area, west of Shetland, the Alwyn-Dunbar area in the northern North Sea, and Culzean and Elgin-Franklin in the central North Sea.