* Takes $2.3 bln impairment as cuts long-term oil price view
* Q4 net operating loss $1.9 bln vs forecast $2.1 bln profit
* Break-even price is $27 on projects vs $41 last year
* Shares down 1.2 percent, off earlier lows
(Adds detail on output, analysts)
By Nerijus Adomaitis and Gwladys Fouche
LONDON/OSLO, Feb 7 Norway's Statoil
plunged to an unexpected loss in the fourth quarter of last
year, as it cut its long-term assumptions for the price of oil
and took a $2.3 billion impairment charge on the value of its
assets as a result.
But the state-controlled company cheered some analysts with
a higher than expected production forecast for 2017, with plans
to cut another $1 billion in costs and by saying the average
break-even price for its new projects had fallen sharply.
"We guess the market will like Statoil's 2017 guidance and
probably forgive the major Q4 earnings miss," said Teodor
Sveen-Nilsen at Swedbank.
At 0910 GMT, Statoil shares were down 1.2 percent at 154.7
Norwegian crowns, off an earlier low of 153.4 crowns.
Though oil prices have recovered in recent months, helped by
output cuts by major producers, they remain well below levels of
more than $100 a barrel earlier in the decade.
Statoil said on Tuesday it now expected benchmark Brent
crude to reach $75 a barrel in 2020, compared with a previous
forecast of $83, and $80 in 2030, compared with $100 before.
Britain's BP said on Tuesday it expected oil prices
to remain above $50 a barrel this year, as it also missed
fourth-quarter earnings forecasts.
Statoil said it made a net operating loss of $1.9 billion
for the quarter, versus an operating profit of $152 million in
the same period of 2015 and analysts' average forecast of a $2.1
The company's adjusted operating profit fell to $1.66
billion from $1.78 billion a year earlier, missing analysts'
forecast for a rise to $2.27 billion as its international unit's
performance fell short of expectations.
However, Swedbank's Sveen-Nilsen said Statoil's guidance
suggested its 2017 production would rise 4-5 percent from 2016,
compared with his own expectations for flat to up 1 percent.
The company also estimated its average break-even price for
new projects by 2022 had fall to $27 a barrel from $41 this time
"This is impressive and a sign that investment activity is
rising again," said Carnegie analyst Kjetil Bakken.
Statoil forecast its capital expenditure would rise to $11
billion this year from a downwardly revised $10 billion in 2016,
with spending on oil and gas exploration steady at $1.5 billion.
The company added it would cut another $1 billion in costs
this year on top of the $3.2 billion it has already cut. It
maintained its dividend policy and said it may buy back shares,
subject to approval from shareholders.
Statoil shares have gained 31 percent over the past year,
outperforming a 24 percent rise in the Stoxx Europe 600 oil and
gas sector index.
(Additional reporting by Camilla Knudsen and Terje Solsvik in
Oslo; Editing by Mark Potter)