(MT Newswires) -- Norwegian energy giant Equinor has announced a capital distribution to its shareholders of $14 billion for 2024. The announcement comes as the company reported a 60% year-on-year fall in net profit.
In response, CEO Anders Opedal confirms a 17% increase in the dividend, and aims to improve predictability for shareholders by raising the ordinary dividend by $0.02 per annum. At the same time, Equinor is proposing an extraordinary dividend of $0.35 for the fourth quarter, bringing the total dividend to $0.70 per share. The Board of Directors is considering extending this extraordinary dividend for the first three quarters of 2024.
In addition, Equinor is continuing its share buyback programme launched in 2021, with annual buybacks of $1.2 billion. On the back of a strong balance sheet, the company plans to step up its share buybacks for 2024 and 2025, announcing a buyback programme of $10-12 billion over two years.
Opedal bases these measures on Equinor's long-term financial strength, anticipating cash flow growth of $3 billion by 2030 and $6 billion by 2035. It expects after-tax operating cash flow from oil and gas activities to remain stable at around US$20 billion annually until 2035, which should support the company's dividends.
With regard to the volatility of the natural gas market, which saw prices fall after the peaks of 2022, Opedal notes growing demand for gas, including a 10% increase in the industrial sector in France and Germany and a 9% rise in China, a country whose consumption now exceeds that of Europe.
Finally, in terms of renewable energies, Equinor is focusing on the development of offshore wind power, particularly in New York and California. Opedal asserts that the company has the necessary portfolio to achieve its objectives without resorting to mergers and acquisitions, although it remains open to this possibility if it proves to create value.

Bloomberg videos