The French oil major Total said on Friday that its 2012 first quarter net profit had fallen by seven percent to 3.66 billion euros ($4.83 billion), on a tax increase and weaker demand in Europe.
Total is also battling a gas leak at its Elgin platform in the North Sea.
The group's first-quarter profit when adjusted for earnings on holdings in other companies and stock effects, a closely-watched industry measure, slipped by a more modest one percent to 3.07 billion euros, a Total statement said.
The result was penalised by higher taxes than during the same period a year earlier, and by tougher conditions in the petrochemical and refining sectors, it added.
The average tax rate on Total's activities rose from 55 percent to 60 percent, mainly because of stiffer taxes on crude oil drawn from wells in the North Sea, the group said.
At the same time, a "deterioration" of the refining and chemicals environment put more pressure on Total's bottom line.
Sales were 51.17 billion euros in the first quarter, the company said, an annualised jump of 11 percent in part the result of higher prices at the pump, and refining margins that rebounded at the start of the second quarter, it added.
The oil group said that its output in the three months from January through March had amounted to 2.37 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, stable from the same period a year earlier.
The results were in line with forecasts by analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.
But the company warned that second quarter output will be hampered by leaks at operations in the North Sea and Nigeria.
Total is trying to stem a gas leak at its Elgin platform, where it is currently losing around $1.5 million per day in income.
The French group did not issue a full-year forecast on Friday, or provide details on how much the leak is costing, but earlier this month, chief financial officer Patrick de la Chevardiere said it was estimated at around $2 million per day.
Shares in Total, which has the biggest market capitalisation in Paris' CAC 40 stock index, showed a loss of 1.15 percent to 36.09 euros in morning trading, while the market was 0.10 percent higher overall.
Source: AFP Global Edition