(Adds new exploration wells, Alta appraisal well postponed)
OSLO, May 2 (Reuters) - Swedish oil firm Lundin Petroleum , a partner in Norway’s giant Johan Sverdrup oilfield, reported lower-than-expected quarterly core earnings on Thursday as output lagged forecasts.
First-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell to $406 million from $456.5 million a year earlier, missing the $424 million expected by analysts in a Reuters poll.
Production stood at 78,800 barrels of oil equivalents per day, below the 79,600 barrels predicted by the poll.
Lundin shares fell 2.5 percent in early trading.
The company kept its 2019 forecast for average daily output of between 75,000 and 95,000 barrels, and said the Sverdrup field was on track to produce its first oil in November.
“I am confident in the expected November 2019 start-up of this world-class asset,” Chief Executive Officer Alex Schneiter said of the Sverdrup field, while reiterating it should hit peak output of 660,000 barrels per day in mid 2020.
Lundin, which discovered Sverdrup in 2010 and owns 22.6 percent of the field, plans to drill a record 17 exploration wells off Norway this year, up from a previously planned 15.
The two wells added to its 2019 exploration programme are in the ConocoPhillips-operated production licence 917, northwest of Sverdrup.
However, Lundin has postponed an appraisal well at its Alta discovery in the Barents Sea until 2020 to better assess the “appraisal strategy”, it said in a statement.
Lundin also said it had applied for exploration acreage in Denmark, bordering the Mandal High in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, where the company started to drill an exploration well in April.
The company kept its exploration spending guidance unchanged at $300 million for 2019. (Reporting by Terje Solsvik, Nerijus Adomaitis and Izabela Niemiec; Editing by Shreejay Sinha and Mark Potter)