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TotalEnergies ramps up buybacks after earnings leap

These translations are done via Google Translate

April 28 (Reuters) – TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA) will expand plans to buy back its own shares, the French energy group said on Thursday after first-quarter core earnings rose sharply on soaring oil and gas prices.

The oil and gas major, which is bolstering its renewables and electricity portfolios, is now planning $3 billion of share buybacks during the first half of the year, having said in February that it would buy back $2 billion in shares.

The group said it had repurchased $1 billion of shares over the first quarter.

TotalEnergies warned that prices could remain elevated if increased oil production from the United States and members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) fails to offset an expected drop in Russian crude and refining output.

High prices and economic ripple effects from Chinese coronavirus lockdowns, however, could limit demand, it added.

Russia on Wednesday halted gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland for not paying in roubles, while the EU warned that complying with Moscow’s demands could breach sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.

In a call with analysts, Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne said the group – which has maintained assets in Russian gas projects – would continue to fulfil its contracts there unless sanctions demand otherwise.

“We never stated we will stay in Russia”, said Pouyanne. “We have just not stated that we will exit from Russia, which is a little different.”

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He added that it was unclear whether the group would be able to access a dividend payout from its stake in Russian LNG producer Novatek (NVTK.MM).

The company posted an adjusted net income up 32% quarter on quarter to $9 billion for the first three months of 2022, with a core profit up 22% at $17.4 billion.

The group’s net income, however, fell 15% to $4.9 billion after a $4.1 billion impairment partly related to Arctic LNG 2, a Russian development project that has been hit by sanctions.

The group said it would be mobilising additional investments to support short-term gas production in the North Sea.

It said it expects to benefit from higher production in Brazil from next month after quarterly hydrocarbon production levels fell 1% year on year to 2.843 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.

It maintained earlier plans to make net investments of about $15 billion this year, with a quarter of that directed to its renewable and electricity divisions.

TotalEnergies also confirmed a 5% increase to its interim dividend for this year and proposed a first payout of 0.69 euros per share.

The company’s shares were up about 4% at 1122 GMT.

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