Equinor posted record pretax profits for the first quarter on Wednesday as the war in Ukraine triggered an energy supply crunch that sent the price of natural gas soaring to all-time highs.
Adjusted earnings before tax rose to $18 billion in the January-March quarter, up from $5.5 billion a year earlier, beating the $17.1 billion predicted in a poll of 25 analysts compiled by Equinor.
“Continued capital discipline and cost focus enabled us to deliver very strong financial results and cash flow, strengthening the balance sheet,” Chief Executive Anders Opedal said in a statement.
The sale of natural gas is now Equinor’s most profitable business, exceeding traditionally dominant crude oil revenues, as Europe scrambles to fill depleted gas storages amid fears the war in Ukraine will lead to a cut-off of Russian supplies.
“We have optimised the gas production to deliver higher volumes, and Hammerfest LNG is on track for a safe start-up on 17 May,” Opedal said, referring to an Arctic gas facility that has been out of commission since a fire in 2020.
The company reiterated its plan to withdraw from Russia, booking a $1.1 billion impairment in the first quarter, as previously announced.
Equinor maintained a quarterly dividend of 40 cents per share, as planned, half of which is an ordinary payout and the other half seen as an extraordinary payment thanks to high petroleum prices.