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Norway's natural gas output edged down to 10.2 Bcm in February: NPD

London — Norway's gas production totaled 10.2 Bcm in February, the fifth straight month that Norway produced more than 10 Bcm of saleable gas, but output was down both year-on-year and month-on-month, preliminary data from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate showed Tuesday.

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* Production averaged 365 mil cu m/d
* March production forecast at 10.8 Bcm
* Oseberg produced at two-year high in January

Total gas output last month averaged 365 million cu m/d, down from the average 370 million cu m/d produced in January.

The February volume was 3.2% down on the same month of 2016, but was significantly higher than the forecast for last month of 9.8 Bcm.

A number of unplanned outages affected output on the Norwegian Continental Shelf last month, including at the Oseberg, Kristin, Kvitebjorn and Troll fields. But supplies are still running at high levels.

For March, the NPD is forecasting saleable gas production of 10.8 Bcm, which would be a little less than the same month last year.

Across the summer, the NPD sees production at 8.3-9 Bcm/month, when output will be impacted by seasonal maintenance.

Production is then expected to rise to 10.5 Bcm in October 2017, comparable with production in the same month last year.

Total Q4 output is expected at 31.1 Bcm, which would be down from 32.2 Bcm in the same quarter of 2016.

January's production of 11.47 Bcm was an all-time high, as Norwegian operators looked to make the most of high European natural gas prices due to a cold snap.

The Statoil-operated Oseberg field produced at an average rate of 17.5 million cu m/d in January, its highest monthly level since February 2015.

This suggests Statoil is still using Oseberg as a swing field, turning up output when prices are high and keeping production down when prices are low as part of its "value over volume" strategy.

So far in 2017, Norwegian production has totaled 21.69 Bcm, down just 0.2% from the 21.73 Bcm in January-February 2016.

--Stuart Elliott,
--Edited by Jeremy Lovell,

Read Stuart's related story -- Interview: Norway's energy minister lauds natural gas sector competitiveness