French oil company Total said that profits fell 58% in the first quarter after it booked a big loss on the sale of a Canadian project it says is no longer worth the investment.

Total said today that its net profit fell to €1.5 billion in the three months to the end of March, from €3.7 billion last year.

Much of the decline was due to a €1.2 billion loss from the sale of its stake in the Voyageur upgrader project, which would turn heavy crude into light oil.

A flood of light oil from the US has made that no longer viable.

France's largest company by market capitalisation said revenue fell 6% to €48.1 billion amid falling oil prices, refinery maintenance cost and Europe's struggling economy.