Equity Oil Co. reported first quarter total income of $3.31 million at the Salt Lake-based firm's annual meeting this week, up 20 percent from $2.75 million for the same period last year.

Net income for the first quarter was $32,847, less than $.01 per share compared to $43,135 also less than $.01 per share for the first quarter of 1987.The 20 percent increase in total income was principally attributed to an increase in both oil and gas sales in the quarter. Oil production at 173,332 barrels was up 8 percent over the 160,900 barrels produced in the first quarter of 1987, while natural gas production increased 39 percent from 142,345 million cubic feet (MCF) in the 1987 first quarter to 198,269 MCF in the first period of 1988.

While both oil and gas production were higher in the quarter, Equity president Fred H. Evans said prices for both commodities were lower than in 1987. Using the oil price at the Rangely Weber Sand Unit as an index, the average price for Rangely oil was $15.27 per barrel in the 1988 first quarter compared to $16 in the same period last year. Oil production at Rangely was 7 percent higher during the 1988 quarter than for the 1987 first quarter.

Evans said that since the end of the quarter, the price of oil at Rangely has increased to $16.35 per barrel indicating the continuing volatility in the oil markets.

"Equity began the year in a very strong and liquid position with a current ratio of assets to liabilities of 4.45 to 1.00 and a commitment to renew and expand our exploration program," Evans told shareholders.

"That key ratio has continued to improve standing at 6.95 to 1.0 at March 31, 1988 and we have made significant strides in implementing our exploration program having drilled or committed to drill nine exploratory wells so far in 1988."

Evans said work should begin next week on the shooting of some 30 miles of seismic lines on Equity's 66,020 acre Palisades prospect in the Wyoming Overthrust. The cost of seismic work, approximately $700,000 is being funded 25 percent by Equity and 75 percent by Mobil Oil Company.

Upon completion of the seismic work, Mobil has an option to purchase up to 75 percent of the Palisades acreage for approximately $1.5 million. Evans said the work will be completed, evaluated and the option exercised no later than November 1.

"If successful, the seismic work may trigger the drilling of an initial test well on the prospect as early as 1989," Evans said.