Statoil acting CEO Eldar Saetre. Image courtesy of Statoil/Youtube.

Norway’s Statoil said Thursday it will keep its quarterly dividend payment plan in place despite oil prices falling lower than the company projected.

Acting CEO Eldar Saetre said the state owned company expects prices to eventually rebound and will continue to move forward with its $28.6 billion Johan Sverdrup development plan.

“Our dividend policy remains completely firm. Dividend is highly prioritized and remains firm.” Saetre told Reuters.

Statoil introduced its quarterly dividend last year and some analysts have said the payment should either be reduced or suspended to ease the financial strain caused by low oil prices.

“We expected the oil price to fall, but the pace and size of the fall has been bigger than we thought,” Saetre said.

The company said it will continue to be selective about the projects it takes on.

“We must ensure that projects are as good as possible and that our cost-efficiency program is paying off,” Saetre said.

In December, Statoil extended its suspensions of the COSL Pioneer, Scarabeo 5 and Songa Trym vessels due to “overcapacity” in its rig portfolio.

The company also withdrew from two Australia onshore permits in November after disappointing test drilling results.

Statoil’s president and CEO Helge Lund resigned his post in October to take the top job at UK-based BG Group.

The company is currently searching for a permanent replacement.


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