Moscow — Russia's Gazprom swung to a hefty first-quarter loss as low oil prices and a weaker rouble took their toll on earnings, though its shares remained bolster by a dividend pledge from the energy giant.
Gas sales to Europe, Gazprom's key market, fell in the first three months of the year and oil prices plunged after the March failure of the world's top producers to agree to agree joint output curbs.
Gazprom's deputy chair Famil Sadygov, however, said the company's loss was “on paper” only and mainly attributable to a sharp weakening in the value of the rouble that followed a drop in global oil prices.
Its first-quarter net loss came in at 116-billion roubles ($1.64bn), compared with a net profit of 536-billion roubles in the same period in 2019.
Gas sales to Europe and China fell 17% while the average price slid 36% to 10,800 roubles ($152) per 1,000 cubic metres, sending Gazprom's revenue down by a quarter to 1.7-trillion roubles.
Excluding currency fluctuations, Gazprom would have posted a 288-billion rouble net profit, Sadygov said, adding that the company would use that estimate rather than the net loss when calculating dividends on 2020s results.
Gazprom shares had lost 1% in early trade in Moscow, outperforming a 1.6% decline for the wider Russian stock index.
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