STAVANGER, Norway, April 29 (UPI) -- A stake in the U.S. natural gas sector helped Norwegian energy company Statoil post a sizable profit for the first quarter, President Helge Lund said Tuesday.
Statoil's net operating income of $8.5 billion was a 35 percent increase from the same time last year. Adjusted earnings were up 9 percent to $7.6 billion.
"Higher prices and good results from our U.S. gas value chain contributed to a 9 percent increase in adjusted earnings, compared to same quarter last year," Lund said in a statement Tuesday.
The company was able to cash in on higher natural gas prices in North America. For production, however, the 1.97 billion barrels of oil equivalent per day during the first quarter was down 1 percent compared to the same period last year.
Statoil said it spent about $780 million on exploration during the first quarter, down 7 percent year-on-year.
Looking forward, the company said it would start development from the Johan Sverdrup field in the North Sea in multiple phases. The first phase is expected to produce 315,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from a field Statoil says is its largest development since the 1980s.
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the nation's regulator, said 1.52 million barrels of oil were produced from Norway last month, a 6 percent increase from the same time last year.