Majority Norwegian government owned Statoil has produced record profit before considerations in the first quarter of the year due to high oil prices and strong refining margins.

Net income after income taxes and minority interest came to NOK6.8 billion. This represents a 44% increase from the first quarter of 2004, when the comparable figure was NOK4.7 billion.

The Norwegian oil company delivered an income before financial items, income taxes and minority interest of NOK21.5 billion for the first quarter of 2005, compared with NOK16 billion in the same period of last year. The results are the Scandinavian energy outfit’s best ever, according to chief executive Helge Lund.

Total revenues came to NOK84.6 billion, as against NOK67 billion in the first quarter of 2004. The group’s oil and gas production in the first quarter averaged 1,189,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d), compared to 1,184,000 boe/d for the same period of last year.

Explaining the record figures, Statoil said price rises of 32% for oil and 21% for gas measured in Norwegian kroner were a primary contributor, while general increased production, particularly from the company’s wider world assets, and improved refining margins also contributed.