France’s Total outpaces rivals in recovering from oil slump

PARIS (AP) — French oil company Total appears to be outpacing key rivals in recovering from a years-long struggle with low crude prices, reporting Thursday a rise in earnings and investment plans.

The Paris-based producer said it was increasing its dividend and that it aims to boost production further through 2020. That contrasts with European rivals Shell and BP, which are still selling off assets and reining in investments as they try to lower costs.

Total said that its adjusted net income, a measure that excludes fluctuations in the value of its inventories, rose to 2.41 billion euros ($2.57 billion), from 2.1 billion euros a year earlier. Sales grew 12 percent to 42.3 billion euros.

Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne hailed his company’s “resilience” and said that the increased dividend “demonstrates the board’s confidence in the strength of the group’s results and balance sheet as well as its prospects for cash flow growth.”

Total SA is, among other projects, preparing to resume production in Iran after international sanctions on the country were dropped. It has also bought shale gas production in the U.S., where the industry had been hit particularly hard by low oil prices, which bottomed out early last year before recovering to above $50 a barrel.

In all, Total expects to launch about 10 projects over the next 18 months.

Shares in Total were up 1.3 percent at 47.44 euros in Paris.