Wednesday 6 February 2019 7:34 pm

Equinor falls short of expectations as production set to remain flat in 2019

Norwegian state oil producer Equinor slipped up on falling oil prices, as earnings failed to live up to expectations in the fourth quarter.

Earnings hit $1.5bn (£1.2bn) after tax in the quarter, up from $1.3bn in the same period last year.

Read more: BP more than doubles profit in bumper 2018

Meanwhile, adjusted earnings rose 42 per cent for the year, to $18bn.

Chief executive Eldar Saetre said he expects production to start this year at the company’s Johan Sverdrup oil field, the North Sea’s fifth largest, which is expected to contribute around 300,000 barrels per day.

However, analysts were left unimpressed by what on the face of it looked like strong results.

The Oslo-listed company closed down 1.4 per cent to 197 Norwegian krone after the news.

“Shares are down on weaker fourth-quarter figures and disappointing production guidance for 2019, which we expected to be higher,” Teodor Sveen-Nilsen at Sparebank 1 Markets said.

“On the positive side, dividends were higher than expected and there was also a stronger long-term [production] guidance.”

Equinor, which rebranded from Statoil last year, said it expects 2019 production to be around the same as in 2018.

However, growth will hit around three per cent during the following six years.

Read more: Shell posts highest earnings in four years as cost cutting pays off

Saetre said: “Equinor is already delivering industry leading returns, and we expect to increase returns and cash flow even further going forward. We delivered record high production in 2018, and we are well positioned for profitable growth in the coming years.

“Internationally we are increasingly taking the role as operator, and we are strengthening Brazil as a core area for Equinor. On the Norwegian continental shelf we expect to deliver at a record high production level in 2025.”