I suppose we might call it a Total (NYSE: TOT) eclipse of last year's first-quarter earnings. That was the achievement last week when France's Total became the final member of the Big Oil contingent to check in with a meaningful hike over its results for the first quarter of 2007.

The company's reported earnings for the quarter came to $5.6 billion, up 18% year over year. If you back out Total's inventory effects, along with some one-time items, its net profit was $4.9 billion, up nearly 9% from last year's period.

As with all Big Oil players from ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) on down, Total's improved results resulted from the significant year-over-year jump in crude prices. But before you assume that Total didn't milk as much from crude's run as did the other big companies, keep in mind that the company reports its results in euros. The dollar's slide against the European currency boosted the relative results of the others, most of which report in dollars.

You won't be surprised to learn that, as has also been the case with the likes of Chevron (NYSE: CVX) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), Total's upstream operations brought home the bacon for the quiche, with a 59% increase in its adjusted operating income in dollar terms. At the same time, the contribution from the downstream unit slid by about half.

But for my money, the key to the quarter -- and certainly to any producer's future -- involves its liquids production trends. On that basis, unlike the slide at most of the other big companies, or the production increase at BP (NYSE: BP), Total's output was flat with the year-ago figure of 2.43 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day.

I must admit to my Foolish friends that the more I survey the world of Big Oil, the more intrigued I become by Total. The company appears to be solidly managed and successfully conducts geographically diverse operations. I would suggest that it justifies the attention of Fools with an interest in the larger energy producers.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He does, however, welcome your questions or comments. The Fool has a disclosure policy.