UPDATE 1-Wintershall expects to turn cash positive by end of year

* Lower costs, new projects, stable output to help

* Progress seen in Norway, Egypt and Russia

* Adj. net profit fell 73% in Q2

* Parent group BASF postponed IPO to 2021 (Recasts, adds details from press call, context)

FRANKFURT, Aug 19 (Reuters) - German oil and gas company Wintershall Dea on Wednesday said it would end the year with a healthy cash balance as new low cost projects and cost cuts would enable it to stem a steep earnings drop.

Wintershall’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation, and exploration expenses (EBITDAX) fell 63% to 254 million euros in the second quarter as the coronavirus pandemic hit economic activity, cutting fuel demand and prices. Adjusted net profit declined 73% to 90 million euros.

Production costs were, however, cut to $3.5 per boe in the second quarter from $4.1 in the same period in 2019.

“We will be able to finish in cash-flow positive territory and are pleased with our underlying performance,” chief executive Mario Mehren said in a call with reporters.

Cash flow in the full year could amount to 100-200 million euros ($119-$239 million) at current forward commodity prices, compared with minus 294 million euros in the second quarter, said chief financial officer Paul Smith.

Wintershall Dea said it has managed to preserve cash thanks to progress at Norwegian, Russian and Egyptian projects, adding that more low cost projects were in the pipeline for the next 18 months.

The company, BASF’s oil and gas subsidiary, which merged with DEA last year, has a forecast for 2020 production to average 600,000-630,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (BOE/D).

Output in April-June was 606,000 barrels BOE/D, broadly unchanged from 614,000 BOE/D a year earlier.

Wintershall Dea’s parent group BASF slid to a net second-quarter loss as it took an 800 million euro impairment against its stake in the company.

It has postponed a plan to float the company to next year. ($1 = 0.8376 euros) (Reporting by Vera Eckert Editing by Michelle Martin and Elaine Hardcastle)