May 14 (UPI) -- Russian oil company Rosneft said Monday its revenue increased more than 20 percent from last year, even as its production levels declined.
The oil company reported first quarter revenue of $30.9 billion, up 0.8 percent from the fourth quarter and 22.1 percent higher than the first quarter 2017. The company attributed the gain in large part to higher crude oil prices.
The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark for the price of oil, was in the $50 per barrel range at this point last year. In early trading Monday, Brent was closer to $77 per barrel. The average price for Urals crude oil, the Russian benchmark, was up 7.8 percent from the fourth quarter and is 24.8 percent higher year-over-year.
Russia is party to an effort by the members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to drain the surplus from the five-year average in global crude oil inventories through coordinated production cuts.
Rosneft reported total production in the first quarter of 4.57 million barrels, a 0.3 percent gain from the fourth quarter, but 1.2 percent lower than this time last year. The company said production was constrained by its obligations to the OPEC-led agreement.
Commenting on the first quarter results, Chairman and CEO Igor Sechin said the company improved free cash flow and reduced short-term financial liabilities by 49 percent.
"Taking into account additional initiatives focused on shareholder value creation and also relatively favorable market conditions we expect further reduction in liabilities and improvement in the shareholder returns," he said in a statement.
U.S. and European sanctions extend deep into Russian energy. Exxon Mobil in March said those sanctions meant it had to leave a joint venture with Rosneft.
Exxon and Rosneft formed partnerships in 2013 and 2014 to work offshore in the Russian Arctic and in the Black Sea. The U.S. company also held acreage on Sakhalin Island.
The U.S. Treasury Department said Exxon engaged in a deal with Sechin, one of the oligarchs who faced personal and business sanctions stemming from the Russian annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Exxon said the sanctions against Sechin left room for "personal" business deals and only applied to "professional" conduct. Treasury officials said the executive orders made no such distinction.