LONDON (Reuters) -Equinor on Wednesday posted a higher-than-expected operating profit for the final three months of 2023, but cut its overall shareholder payments and said production was expected to be unchanged in 2024.

The oil and gas producer’s adjusted earnings before tax for October-December fell to $8.68 billion from $17.0 billion a year earlier, beating the $8.46 billion predicted in a poll of 26 analysts compiled by Equinor.

“We expect to grow our cash flow and sustain competitive returns. We are extending the outlook for stable contribution from oil and gas to 2035,” Chief Executive Anders Opedal said in a statement.

Overall dividends and share buybacks would be cut to $14 billion in 2024 from $17 billion in 2023.

The company raised its ordinary quarterly dividend payment to $0.35 per share from $0.30 but said its extraordinary cash dividend would be cut to $0.35 per quarter from $0.60.

Equinor also said it plans to spend $6 billion on share buybacks in 2024, equal to 2023.

Equinor in 2022 overtook Russia’s Gazprom as Europe’s biggest supplier of natural gas as Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine upended decades-long energy ties.

(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis in London and Nora Buli in Oslo, editing by Terje Solsvik)

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