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UPDATE 2-Aker BP sets goal of 70% growth in oil, gas output by 2028

* Sees 2028 output above 350,000 boepd vs 210,700 boepd in 2020

* Capital spending to rise sharply in 2021

* Q4 operating profit $278 mln vs poll $275 mln (Adds quote, background)

OSLO, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Norway’s Aker BP will raise output by 70% by 2028 to more than 350,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), the independent oil and gas firm said on Thursday, sharply lifting its investment target.

Capital spending will increase to $2.2 billion-$2.3 billion from $1.7 billion in 2020, taking advantage of tax incentives introduced by Norway’s parliament, it said.

“We’re raising activity quite radically, while our dividend is moderate,” CEO Karl Johnny Hersvik told reporters.

Norway in June introduced tax breaks for the oil industry to boost investment and maintain jobs following a sharp decline in crude prices as demand plunged due to the pandemic.

The output goal for 2028 assumes a startup of Aker BP’s NOAKA project, jointly developed with Equinor and estimated to hold more than 500 million barrels of oil equivalent, in mid-2027, the company said.

“A concept select decision is planned for the third quarter 2021, and the ambition is to submit plans for development and operations (PDO) in the fourth quarter 2022,” Aker BP said of NOAKA.

The company, controlled by Norwegian billionaire Kjell Inge Roekke and partly owned by BP, produced 210,700 boepd last year and plans output of 210,000-220,000 boepd in 2021.

Aker BP’s October-December earnings before interests and tax (EBIT) fell to $278 million from $491 million a year earlier, while analysts in a Refinitiv poll on average had predicted a profit of $275.4 million.

It plans to increase its dividend payment in 2021 to $450 million from $425 million paid in 2020. It had originally planned to pay $850 million in dividend for 2020, but cut the payout in May due to a sharp fall in oil prices.

The company said it has a goal of raising the annual dividend by at least 5% per year from 2022 onwards as long as the oil price stays above $40 per barrel.

North Sea crude currently trades at around $59. (Editing by Terje Solsvik and Jason Neely)

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