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UPDATE 2-Rosneft swings to $2 bln first-quarter net income on higher oil prices

(Updates with conference call, analyst comment)

MOSCOW, May 14 (Reuters) - Russia’s largest oil producer Rosneft on Friday reported first-quarter net income of 149 billion roubles ($2 billion), buoyed by a recovery in oil prices and almost fully recovering from a loss a year ago.

Sova Capital brokerage said this was the strongest quarter for Rosneft since before it acquired Anglo-Russian TNK-BP in 2013.

“Given where commodity prices are (in the second quarter) so far, we think there is basis for a solid dividend for (the first half of) 2021,” it said.

Rosneft posted a loss of $2.1 billion in the first quarter of 2020. But earnings at the group, which is around one-fifth owned by BP, have been boosted by a 20% annual increase in oil prices supported by a global deal on production cuts.

The deal was also partly behind a first-quarter decline in Rosneft’s oil and gas condensate production, which came in at 3.75 million barrels per day (bpd) from 4.64 million bpd a year ago. Output, however, edged up 1% from the previous quarter.

Production was also pressured by Rosneft’s sale of some mature assets in southern Russia, along with underperforming brownfields elsewhere, to raise capital to develop its giant northern Vostok Oil project.

Rosneft has held talks with international traders as well as big global oil consumers such as India and China about their possible participation in this project.

A company official told a conference call with investors that Rosneft was still in talks on new partners for Vostok Oil, betting on a successful outcome before the end of the year.

Rosneft’s revenue for the January-March quarter edged down 1.2% to 1.7 trillion roubles, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose to 445 billion roubles, up 44% year on year. ($1 = 73.9200 roubles) (Reporting by Olesya Astakhova and Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by David Goodman, Jan Harvey and Gabriela Baczynska)

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