If you're like me, you're watching crude oil prices rise slowly but steadily and wondering how to play this phenomenon. Oh sure, there are the members of Big Oil -- Chevron
One of my preferences lately, however, has been to spend time looking at the state-controlled, but publicly traded likes of Norway's StatoilHydro ASA
Admittedly, the first quarter, like most oil companies, wasn't a great one for Statoil. Its profit dropped 75% to 4 billion Norwegian kroner, roughly $618 million, versus 16 billion kroner in the same quarter last year. On an adjusted basis, the operating income was 36 billion this year, compared with 51.5 billion a year ago. This year's decline resulted largely from crude prices that fell 41% in the quarter. And there was also the added financial downside from currency effects and a high-as-a-kite Norwegian tax rate.
On the more positive side, volumes of oil and gas increased from a year ago. And they'll move higher if the company continues to have success like it announced on Wednesday. That news involved a new well in the North Sea, which, in depths of about 350 feet of water, showed both oil and gas.
It was one of several discoveries during the quarter. Participating in that find are several partners, including Calgary-based Talisman Energy
A while ago I told my Foolish friends about the company's increased movement around the world. But perhaps Statoil’s most intriguing activity is occurring in the Arctic Circle, where it produces natural gas from the frigid Barents Sea, cools it further -- remember, these are Norwegians -- for liquefaction, and then ships it to waiting customers. Its activities in the colder climes are in concert with those of BP
OK, so there was room for improvement in the quarterly numbers. But I think you'll agree that there are lots of interesting things going on at Statoil at precisely the time that crude is up a bunch since its February low. And by the way, the company will start you off with a dividend yield above 3%.
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