French oil group Total today reported a 3% fall in underlying profit to €12.203 billion, blaming weakness of the dollar. The net adjusted figure excludes exceptional items. The full net  figure rose by 12% to €13.181 billion.

Total, the fourth-biggest oil group in the world alongside US group Chevron, said that its net adjusted profit figure for 2007 had been set back by weakness of the dollar against the euro.

Total's CEO Christophe de Margerie said the company was examining  investment projects on the basis of an oil price of $80 a barrel. This was 'closer to reality' than the price of $60 which remained the company's reference point in the long term, he said. The price of oil is currently about $90 a barrel.

The CEO also said that there was a 'crisis' in the US economy and that growth in Europe might be affected, but that this would have  only a 'minor impact' on the group's performance.

In contrast to other oil majors that have experienced production  falls, Total reported that output had risen by 1.5% to 2.391 billion barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2007 compared with the figure for 2006. In that year net adjusted profit had reached a record high point.

Production should show further 'significant growth' in 2008,  even if the price of oil fell to $80 a barrel, the company said.

The group's proved reserves, a key measure of the value of an oil company, had fallen by 6% to 10.449 billion barrels of oil equivalent which, the group said, was equivalent to 12 years of  production. Proved and probable reserves together amounted to 20 billion barrels or more than 20 years of output.