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Oil firm Vaar Energi raises dividend as Q1 profit soars

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OSLO (Reuters) -Norway's Vaar Energi raised its annual dividend and posted a sharp rise in first-quarter profit on Wednesday, aided by a surge in oil and gas prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Vaar, majority owned by Italy's Eni, reported a pretax profit of $1.65 billion for the January-March quarter, up from $1.12 billion a year earlier.

The company said under current market conditions, it plans to pay a dividend of $1 billion for 2022, up from $800 million planned earlier.

"The current commodity price environment reflects the significant uncertainties created by Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February," Chief Executive Officer Torger Roed said in a statement.

"The war comes on top of already tight energy markets as global demand recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic."

Cash flow from operations rose by 135% year-on-year in the first quarter to an "exceptional" $2.2 billion, Vaar said.

First-quarter dividend will amount to $225 million, or 9 cents a share, and it will be increased to $260 million for the second quarter, Vaar said.

The company went public on the Oslo bourse on Feb. 16, a week before the start of the war in Ukraine, making it the largest pure-play oil exploration and production company to list globally in almost a decade.

Vaar shares have jumped 36% since listing, tracking the rise in petroleum prices.

The company aims to produce more than 350,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) by the end of 2025, up from the 246,000 boepd in 2021, from oil and gas fields off Norway.

(Reporting by Gwladys Fouche, editing by Terje Solsvik, Subhranshu Sahu and Vinay Dwivedi)

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