OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's Aker BP <AKERBP.OL> beat third-quarter operating profit forecasts on Friday helped by higher oil prices and trimmed its plans for capital and exploration spending.
Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rose to $548 million from $219 million and topped the $521 million (400 million pounds) expected by analysts in a Reuters poll.gi
Revenue was helped by higher oil and gas prices, with its average realised oil price rising to $78 from $55 a barrel a year earlier, the company said.
Norwegian billionaire Kjell Inge Roekke holds 40 percent via investment firm Aker ASA <AKER.OL> while BP <BP.L> has a 30 percent stake in the company.
Aker BP said it now expected $1.25 billion in 2018 capital spending, down from a previous target of $1.3 billion. It trimmed its exploration budget to $400 million from $425 million.
The reduction in capital spending was due to smooth progress in ongoing development projects, including the Johan Sverdrup oilfield operated by Equinor <EQNR.OL> where Aker BP holds an 11.6 percent interest.
Aker BP maintained production guidance of 155,000-160,000 barrels of oil equivalents per day (boed) for 2018, but said it expected the output to be in the "lower half" of that range.
In the third quarter its production in Norway rose 14 percent year on year to 150,600 boed, but was 4.6 percent down from the previous quarter, the company said on Oct. 5.
Out output is expected to top 200,000 boed by end-2019, after Johan Sverdrup starts, Chief Executive Karl Johnny Hersvik, told Reuters in September.
Aker BP will pay a dividend of $0.3124 per share for the third quarter, in line with expectations and unchanged from the second quarter.
(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; editing by Ole Petter Skonnord and Jason Neely)