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Total bucks trend with better-than-expected profit numbers

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Total bucks trend with better-than-expected profit numbers

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French energy firm Total has bucked the trend and reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter net profit, though down by 26 percent at $2.1 billion.

It credited record upstream production and high profit margins for its refining and chemicals business in Europe.

However it is planning to cut costs and reduce spending further due to prolonged low oil prices, though it will not lay off any staff.

It is looking for annual savings of $2.4 billion (2.1 billion euros), rising to more than $3 billion (2.6 billion euros) in 2017 and will pursue capital spending reduction to around $19 billion (16.73 billion euros) in 2016, a decrease of more than 15 percent compared with 2015.

It also intends to sell $4 billion (3.52 billion euros) worth of assets this year, though only if it can get the right price.

Chief Financial Officer Patrick de La Chevardiere said that with oil at around $30 per barrel it was difficult to sell an upstream asset at a reasonable price.

“This is not a garage sale,” he said. “If we cannot obtain a reasonable price, we cannot sell.”

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