Norway’s Statoil has posted a bigger-than-expected drop in its fourth-quarter operating profit, and has trimmed its oil and gas production growth target due to weakness in natural gas markets.

Adjusted operating profit slumped to NKr34.4bn ($5.84bn) in October-December from NKr43.4bn during the same period a year earlier.

The result missed an average forecast for NKr35.1bn in a Reuters poll of 24 analysts, whose adjusted earnings before interest and tax predictions by market cap had ranged between NKr31.6bn to NKr38.6bn, reports Reuters.

Statoil trimmed its 2012 equity method production goal to 2.1-2.2 million boed, down from an earlier 2.2 million boed target.