Brussels (Brussels Morning) Norway’s Equinor energy company boasted its highest quarterly growth in the third quarter this year thanks to soaring natural gas prices in Europe.
The company announced plans to increase share buybacks in the coming months and to maintain the quarterly dividend at US$ 0.18 per share, Reuters reported today.
Equinor plans to buy back roughly 1 billion dollars in shares over the next three months, a substantial increase over its earlier spending plans of approximately 300 million. In the previous three months, the company planned to buy back shares worth 300 million dollars, but spent about 99 million.
Equinor reported earnings before taxes of 9.77 billion dollars in the third quarter, exceeding expectations of a group of 25 analysts who had predicted in a survey poll that the figure would stand at 8.4 billion.
Equinor CEO Anders Opedal pointed out that “the current unprecedented level and volatility in European gas prices underline the uncertainty in the market.”
Equinor, he said, “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 to up gas exports
Equinor announced plans to increase production and export of natural gas to the rest of Europe via pipelines.
Norway is the largest producer of oil and gas in Europe not counting Russia. Official government records show that the country supplied 22% of the natural gas consumed in the EU last year.
Global gas prices shot up in the third quarter due to concerns over supply from Russia, rising demand and below average storage levels. The price spiked again at the start of this month, peaking at 155 euro per MWh and dropping to 89 by Tuesday.
The price of crude oil from the North Sea increased 67% this year, reaching 86 dollars a barrel, a three-year high.
Growing energy costs have driven up electricity prices, affecting households and businesses, and exacerbating supply chain disruptions.