Boosted by higher oil and gas prices, Equinor posted a net income of $1.85bn for the first quarter of 2021, in contrast to a $705m loss a year ago.

Adjusted profit before interest and tax (EBIT) surged to $5.47bn from $2.05bn in the first quarter of 2020.

The company’s adjusted earnings after tax in the quarter soared to $2.66bn from $561m in the same quarter of last year and it booked combined gains of $1.4bn during the quarter from divestments.

The Norwegian energy giant has decided to pay a dividend of 15 cents per share for the quarter.

Petroleum output fell marginally to 2.17 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) from 2.23 million boepd in the year-ago quarter.

Output was dented by the shutdown of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Norway and repairs at the Peregrino oilfield in Brazil, the company said.

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Equinor, however, noted that it expects production to increase by 2% in 2021 compared to last year. Over the period of 2020-2026, the energy giant expects production to grow at a rate of 3% per annum.

Equinor president and CEO Anders Opedal said: “With sustained improvements and capital discipline, we are able to capture value from recovering oil and gas prices and achieve our best quarterly results since 2014.

“We deliver a net cash flow above $5bn and reduce our adjusted net debt ratio to below 25%. The forceful response and solid operational performance delivered by our organisation during the pandemic is providing for a strong position for safe operations, value creation and cash flow generation in 2021 and going forward.”