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Statoil Registered More than Expected Profit

Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil reported a forecast-beating profit

Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil reported a forecast-beating 26-percent rise in third-quarter operating profit, lifted by soaring oil prices although held back by production constraints and higher costs.

Statoil ASA, the Nordic region's biggest industrial company by turnover, said on Monday operating profit rose to 30.06 billion crowns ($4.59 billion) in the three months to end-September from 23.87 billion a year earlier.

The result beat an average forecast of 28.23 billion in a Reuters poll of 19 analysts, and was at the top end of estimates which ranged from 25.54 billion to 30.30 billion crowns.

"The increase of 6.2 billion (in operating profit) was mainly related to an increase in the average oil price of 13 percent, and a 33 percent increase in gas prices, both measured in Norwegian crowns," Statoil said.

Statoil's average oil price rose to 438 crowns in the third quarter from 389 in the same quarter a year ago.

But in a sign of the mounting cost pressures facing oil and gas producers around the world, Statoil said its cost of production rose 16 percent in the 12 months to the end of September to 25.3 crowns per barrel.

"We see that (the production cost) will increase towards 26 crowns per barrel in 2006," Chief Executive Helge Lund told a news conference.