Falling oil and gas prices have pushed Total’s second-quarter net income down 54% but the French oil giant has nonetheless beaten analyst predictions.

Total said that it proposed an interim dividend of €1.14 ($1.60) a share, unchanged from last year, because it was confident of the outlook.

The world’s fourth-largest non government-controlled oil group by market value also said that it would continue investing to find and produce new resources while reducing costs.

Total said that second-quarter net profit, stripping out unrealised gains or losses related to changes in the value of fuel inventories, fell to €1.72bn, hurt by a sharp drop in oil prices, lower output and tight refining margins.

This compared to the €3.72bn Total reported for the second quarter of 2008, and the average forecast of €1.66bn from a Reuters poll of 12 analysts, the news agency reported.

Total said that its oil and gas production had fallen 7% to 2.182 million bpd equivalent, missing analysts’ 2.224 million boepd. This was mainly due to Opec output cuts and production stoppages in Nigeria related to security matters, said Reuters.

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