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UPDATE 1-Equinor Q1 beats forecast, Sverdrup field on track for November start

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OSLO, May 3 (Reuters) - Norwegian oil and gas firm Equinor reported a higher-than-expected operating profit for the first quarter on Friday and said its giant Johan Sverdrup oilfield in the North Sea remains on track to start production in November.

Its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), adjusted for one-off items, fell to $4.2 billion in the quarter from $4.4 billion during the same period of 2018, beating a forecast of $3.9 billion in a Reuters poll of analysts.

The company's domestic and international oil and gas production units both beat forecasts, while its refining, marketing and renewable energy unit was largely in line with analysts' expectations.

Equinor's quarterly oil and gas production was 2.18 million barrels of oil equivalents per day (boepd), slightly ahead of a 2.16 million forecast in the poll.

"Johan Sverdrup will start production later this year, and our project developments are on track to deliver production growth towards 2025," Chief Executive Eldar Saetre said in a statement.

The company reiterated its financial outlook and said it would pay a dividend of $0.26 per share for the first quarter, in line with expectations. (Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis and Izabela Niemiec, editing by Terje Solsvik)