GDF Suez has reported a 13.6% rise in global gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation amortisation (ebitda) to €1.415 billion ($1.736 billion) in the first half of the year.

The French energy player cited a “strong advance in exploration and production activity” as well as favourable commodity prices for the increase.

The company said increased LNG sales and higher production from the Gjoa field in Norway had also boosted the bottom line.

The explorer said it was sticking with its 55,000-barrel a day output target for the end of the year.

The wider company posted a 15% fall in net profit to €2.33 billion from €2.74 billion a year earlier, when earnings were boosted by exceptional capital gains.

The first-half performance was roughly in line with average expectations of €2.36 billion from a Dow Jones Newswires poll of five analysts.

Chief executive Gerard Mestrallet said the environment was “clearly difficult”, but that the company was taking “strong action on cost-reduction and control of investments,” to ensure it can maintain its credit rating and dividend.

The overall company’s ebitda rose to €9.24 billion from €8.86 billion, ahead of analysts’ expectations of €9.18 billion.

Revenue over the period grew 10.6% to €50.5 billion from €45.68 billion.

“The reiteration of GDF Suez’s full-year 2012 earnings and dividend outlook is a comforting message,” commented Bank of AmericaMerrill Lynch analyst Eric Lopez to Dow Jones Newswires, giving the company a buy rating.

“Growth projects under construction and GDF’s annual capex program of €10 billion will continue to add to earnings beyond 2012,” the analyst added.

GDF Suez still expects 2012 net profit of between €3.7 billion and €4.2 billion with forecasted ebitda of around €17 billion.