VIENNA, May 13 (Reuters) - Austrian oil and gas group OMV cut its 2014 production target on Tuesday, saying the security situation in Libya, where its output has been halted since mid-March, was hard to predict.
Reporting a 21 percent drop in first-quarter operating profit, in line with expectations, OMV said it now expected to produce 310-330,000 barrels of oil per day equivalent (boe/d) this year, down from its previous target of 320-340,000.
OMV said the lower end of the target represented no production for the rest of the year in Libya, which accounted for 10 percent of its output before the 2011 uprising there, and the upper end represented a return to normal levels.
Escalating tensions in Libya, where protests at major oilfields and ports have decimated its oil production and slowed exports to a trickle, have pushed oil prices higher despite periodic agreements to reopen oil ports.
"The security situation in Libya and Yemen remains very difficult to predict. Whilst production in Yemen has been interrupted only for a few days in 2014, Libyan production was affected throughout the quarter," OMV said in a statement.
OMV's key operating profit result of 668 million euros ($919 million) was in line with the average estimate of 665 million euros in a Reuters poll of analysts.
The drop in earnings before interest and tax (clean CCS EBIT), which strips out special items and inventory holding gains or losses, was mainly due to a low refining margin already reported by the company.
Clean CCS net profit fell 13 percent to 302 million euros, beating the Reuters poll average of 290 million euros.
($1 = 0.7270 Euros)
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Michael Shields)
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