Norwegian oil giant Statoil said it expects production levels to fall next year as the impact of its recent sell-off programme is felt.

Production by firm grew by around 6% in the last quarter, but the sell-off of North Sea and Norwegian Sea fields to OMV and Wintershall over the last few months will reduce that by more than 40,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

However the company insists it is still on target to hit its target of 2.5million boed by 2020, with the shortfall expected to come from new projects over the next six years.

Exploration costs increased by 1billion krone to 5.9billion (£620million), after a rise in drilling activity – with the company enjoying the dividends through the discovery of a major oil field off the coast of Canada, along with new finds in the Norwegian continental shelf.

Statoil says it now expects to spend $3.75billion in exploration costs for the year, up from its earlier $3.5billion target, and would drill 60 wells instead of a planned 50.

Profits at the state-owned operator fell slightly year on year for the third quarter, down 4% to 39.3billion krone (£4.1billion), with net income falling 6% to 13.7billion krone compared to the same period last year.

The company was boosted by the $2.65 sell-off of stakes in Gullfaks and Gudrun, along with stakes in the Shiehallion and Rosebank fields west of Shetland.

It was also boosted by the performance of its US onshore work, along with international operations in Angola and Brazil, leading to a 13% rise in production outside Norway.

“Statoil delivered strong strategic progress in the third quarter,” said chief executive Helge Lunde.

“We added high-value barrels through the Bay du Nord discovery offshore Canada, the world’s largest oil discovery this year. We also announced a major divestment to capture value created through asset development and unlock capital for investment in high return projects.

“Our operational performance is good and we delivered solid earnings in the period.

“We are producing as planned, and maintain our production guidance for 2013. Our activity level is high. We are progressing our projects according to plan, with good cost control and capital discipline,”

The company is due to establish a major base in the UK over the next few months as it ramps up work on the Mariner field development, which could yield up to 55,000 boed once it comes online in 2017, and is looking to hire up to 75 people in Aberdeen by the end of the year.