October 22, 2019 / 5:29 AM / 24 days ago

Aker BP cuts 2019 oil output guidance after North Sea field delay

OSLO (Reuters) - Aker BP ASA (AKERBP.OL) cut its full-year oil output target on Tuesday as production problems at the oil explorer’s Valhall field in the North Sea offset a boost from the early opening of its Johan Sverdrup field in Norway.

The company, jointly controlled by oil major BP Plc (BP.L) and Norwegian holding company Aker ASA (AKER.OL), now expects daily output in 2019 to average 155,000 barrels of oil equivalents (boepd), down from a July forecast of 155,000-160,000 boepd.

The company blamed the lower forecast on a delay in starting new wells at the North Sea Valhall field, following maintenance in June, adding that there was no impact on reserves.

Aker BP’s average output stood at only 144,000 boepd for the first nine months of the year, but the Sverdrup field, brought on stream by operator Equinor (EQNR.OL) on Oct. 5, a month ahead of schedule, will give a significant fourth-quarter boost.

With reserves of 2.7 billion barrels of oil and expected to reach production of some 440,000 boepd by mid-2020, the field - in which Aker BP owns 11.57% - is the largest Norwegian oil development in more than 30 years.

Meanwhile, Aker BP’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell to $480 million in the third quarter from $698 million a year ago, in line with a $478 million forecast in a Refinitiv poll of analysts.

The company had warned on Oct. 14 that third-quarter output was weaker than expected as seasonal maintenance at some fields had taken longer than expected.

It had also warned in advance of $80 million goodwill impairments and additional costs from repairs of some $14 million, which helped push its third-quarter net result to a loss of $43 million.

The company repeated its plan to pay $750 million in dividends in 2019 and to raise the annual payout by another $100 million each year to 2023.

Aker BP’s shares have risen 13.4% year-to-date, outperforming an average 3.3% rise in European oil and gas stocks .SXEP. Oslo trading begins at 0700 GMT.

Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Terje Solsvik/Rashmi Aich/Susan Fenton

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