STAVANGER, Norway, April 29, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Statoil's (OSE:STL, NYSE:STO) first quarter 2014 net operating income was NOK 51.4 billion, a 35% increase compared to the first quarter of 2013. Adjusted earnings were up 9% to NOK 46.0 billion. "We are pleased to present strong financial results for the quarter. Higher prices and good results from our US gas value chain contributed to a 9% increase in adjusted earnings, compared to same quarter last year. Our operational performance is solid, providing the foundation for around 2% rebased organic production growth in 2014," says Helge Lund, Statoil's president and CEO. Net operating income was NOK 51.4 billion in the first quarter, an increase of 35% compared to the first quarter of 2013. After quarter specific items, adjusted earnings were NOK 46.0 billion, a 9% increase compared to the same quarter last year. The adjustments of NOK 5.4 billion is primarily related to an award payment following a commercial dispute and gain on sale of assets. The increased revenue was mainly due to higher prices and improved contribution from the gas value chain. Adjusted earnings after tax were NOK 15.8 billion, compared to NOK 12.0 billion in the same period last year. "With strong cash flows from operations and firm capital discipline, we further strengthened our financial position. The Board proposes to distribute a dividend payment of NOK 1.80 per share for the quarter, in line with our commitment to capital distribution," says Lund. Underlying operation costs were stable. Exploration expenditure was NOK 4.7 billion, down 7% compared to same quarter last year. Earnings per share were NOK 7.43 in the quarter, up from NOK 2.02 in the first quarter last year. The net debt to capital employed at the end of the quarter was 10%. "To meet the industry cost and capital intensity challenge we have initiated new, comprehensive measures in the quarter to further strengthen our efficiency and cost competitiveness, while we reached important milestones in the ongoing process of reducing our cost base. We are on track, executing on our plan to deliver high value growth," says Lund.