Norway's Equinor on Thursday posted a higher-than-expected profit for the first quarter, albeit well below last year's record levels, amid a sharp fall in gas prices.
The Norwegian oil and gas producer's adjusted earnings before interest and tax for January-March fell to $12 billion from $18 billion a year earlier, beating the $11.2 billion predicted in a poll of 26 analysts compiled by Equinor.
"Equinor delivered strong earnings and cash flow across the business and remains a safe and reliable provider of energy to Europe," Chief Executive Anders Opedal said in a statement.
The company maintained its guidance for production and capital expenditure and kept its dividend unchanged.
The majority state-owned company last year became Europe's largest supplier of natural gas as Russia's Gazprom cut deliveries amid the West's support for Ukraine, sending European gas prices to all-time highs.
Equinor's adjusted operating profit for the January-March period was also down from $15.1 billion in the fourth quarter.
Equinor said its average gas sales price to Europe had declined by 37% year-on-year in the first quarter while the price of oil was down by 24%.
Equinor's full-year adjusted operating profit surged to a record $74.9 billion in 2022, more than doubling from the previous high in 2008.
Equinor's share price is down 16.6% year-to-date, underperforming a 4.2% decline in European petroleum stocks.
(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis and Nora Buli, editing by Terje Solsvik and Gwladys Fouche)