UPDATE 1-Statoil trims output growth goal due weak gas

Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:27am EST

Related Topics

* 2012 oil/gas output goal 2.1-2.2 mln boed vs prvs 2.2 mln

* Q4 adjusted EBIT falls 21 pct, lags forecasts

* Eyes CAPEX of $13.0 bln in 2010 vs $13.5 bln 2009 plan

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OSLO, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Norway's Statoil (STL.OL) posted a bigger than expected drop in fourth-quarter operating profit on Thursday and trimmed its oil and gas production growth target due to weakness in natural gas markets.

Hit by lower gas prices compared to a year ago, adjusted operating profit slumped to 34.4 billion Norwegian crowns ($5.84 billion) in October-December from 43.4 billion a year earlier.

The result missed an average forecast for 35.1 billion crowns in a Reuters poll of 24 analysts, whose adjusted EBIT predictions for Europe's seventh largest oil and gas company by market cap had ranged between 31.6 billion crowns to 38.6 billion.

Statoil trimmed its 2012 equity method production goal to 2.1-2.2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, down from an earlier 2.2 million boed goal.

"There is an area of uncertainty related to the 2012 production mainly due to the weak gas market conditions," Statoil said in a statement.

"Statoil maintains its positive long-term view on the future competitiveness of gas. Statoil's objective is to maximise the value of the gas portfolio, rather than the volumes produced in any given year."

Statoil set its 2010 capex guidance at $13 billion, against $13.5 billion planned in 2009 and this year's exploration budget at $2.3 billion against a planned $2.7 billion last year.

Shares in Statoil will resume trading at 0800 GMT. (Reporting by Oslo newsroom; Editing by Mike Nesbit)

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