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ENERGY

Norwegian oil company doubles revenue as gas prices surge  

Norwegian energy giant Equinor said Wednesday that soaring gas prices helped it more than double its revenue in the third quarter. 

A file photo showing a North Sea oil rig. Norway's state-owned oil company Equinor netted a pre-tax operating result of 9.77 billion dollars for the third quarter of 2021.
A file photo showing a North Sea oil rig. Norway's state-owned oil company Equinor netted a pre-tax operating result of 9.77 billion dollars for the third quarter of 2021. Photo: ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP

Equinor, which is 67 percent owned by the Norwegian state, said that its net profit rose to $1.4 billion between July to September this year, compared to a loss during the same period in 2020, partly due to asset write-downs.

But the profit figure was well below analyst expectations of $2 billion.

However, total revenue hit $23 billion, narrowly beating expectations of $22 billion, according to analysts surveyed by Factset.

The number was also more than twice the revenue of the same period last year, when many businesses were devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Equinor’s preferred indicator — net operating profit, which excludes some one-off items, came in well above expectations at $9.8 billion.

Energy prices have surged recently as the global economy recovers from the pandemic, and the northern hemisphere heads towards winter.

Chief executive Anders Opedal said that “the global economy is in recovery, but we are still prepared for volatility related to the impact of the pandemic”.

“The current unprecedented level and volatility in European gas prices underlines the uncertainty in the market,” he said in the statement.

“Equinor has an important role as a reliable energy provider to Europe and we have taken steps to increase our gas exports to respond to the high demand.”

Equinor’s average price of oil per barrel reached $69.2 in the third quarter — up from $38.3 a year earlier.

Still largely oil-based, the company said in June it plans to invest $23 billion in renewable energy by 2026.

READ ALSO: Norway oil giant Equinor aims to be carbon neutral by 2050

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ENERGY

Italian monuments go dark in protest against energy bill hike

Monuments across Italy, from Rome's Capitoline Hill to the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, will go dark on Thursday evening in a symbolic protest by municipal authorities against soaring electricity costs.

Italian monuments go dark in protest against energy bill hike

The ANCI association of Italian communes estimates bills will rise by at least 550 million euros (around $630 million) for local councils, out of a total annual electricity expenditure of 1.6-1.8 billion euros.

“The increase in bills is a burden and puts families and institutions in serious difficulty”, with many already struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic, Rome Mayor Roberto Gualtieri said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Electric bills in Italy set for record 55 percent rise from January

He is switching off the lights of the Capitoline, Rome’s town hall, for an hour from 8:00 pm (1900 GMT).

In Florence, the Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Medici Riccardi will be turned off for 30 minutes at the same time.

Similar action is planned in Milan, Turin, Bologna, Pisa and others as part of the ANCI-organised initiative.

ANCI chief Antonio Decaro said government support so far is not enough.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government has so far pledged 5.5 billion euros to help households and businesses with soaring electricity and gas bills.

Draghi on Wednesday said the government was preparing a further “far-reaching intervention in the coming days”.

READ ALSO: Italy ups financial aid as energy costs soar again

Beppe Sala, the mayor of Milan, said his city already used many LEDS.

“There’s not much more we can do (to reduce costs) other than to reduce the lighting,” he said.

The temporary blackout was intended to “give a message to the government”, he said.

Energy prices have soared over the past year and Italy is heavily dependent on imports to meet its oil and natural gas needs.

According to a study by S&P Global Ratings, cited by La Stampa daily, the rise in electricity will cost at least 35 billion euros extra for the country in 2022.

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