May 13, 2019 / 3:55 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Russia's Rosneft says Q1 earnings, oil output rose

* Rosneft’s Q1 net profit up 62% y/y

* Rosneft’s Q1 oil output rose almost 4%

* Venezuela’s debt declined to $1.8 bln in Q1 (Updates with conference call, merges output and financial results data, adds detail)

By Vladimir Soldatkin and Olesya Astakhova

MOSCOW, May 13 (Reuters) - Russian oil producer Rosneft said on Monday its net income and oil production rose in the first quarter as it ramped up output at both mature and new fields and capitalised on favourable foreign currency rates.

The Kremlin-controlled firm, headed by Igor Sechin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, also said Venezuela had continued cutting its debt to the company and that its dealings with the Latin American country had not breached U.S. sanctions.

Rosneft’s shares were up 1.9% to 421.9 roubles apiece after the results, outperforming the wider Russian stock market.

The company, the world’s largest listed oil producer by output, has increased its global reach in recent years, making forays into markets such as India and Egypt. BP has a 19.75% stake in Rosneft.

Rosneft has been working in Venezuela with state-run energy firm PDVSA, which is the subject of U.S. sanctions.

The Russian firm said on Monday PDVSA had been paying its debt on schedule and the debt fell to $1.8 billion as of the end of the first quarter from $2.3 billion three months earlier.

Didier Casimiro, a Rosneft vice president, also said supplies of Venezuelan oil to its refinery in India were not in violation of U.S. sanctions.

“The usage of Venezuela’s oil, which we are supplying to refineries in India, was allowed as it comes from pre-payed contracts,” he said.

PDVSA is paying debt back to Rosneft via oil supplies.

Rosneft’s operations in Venezuela have come to public attention amid a power struggle between the Latin American country’s National Assembly and pro-Moscow President Nicolas Maduro.

Rosneft also said Kurdistan’s debt to it fell to $1.4 billion in the first quarter from $3 billion as of Dec. 31.

The company plans to cut its overall net debt by $2-$3 billion in the second quarter.

Rosneft’s January-March net income increased by 62% year-on-year in the first three months of 2019 to 131 billion roubles ($2 billion), while oil output was up by almost 4 percent to 4.74 million barrels per day.

First-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) stood at 548 billion roubles, while January-March free cash flow was 197 billion roubles.

$1 = 65.4050 roubles Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Olesya Astakhova; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Mark Potter

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