UPDATE 1-Wintershall to raise output to counter oil price hit
* Global oil price slump hits earnings at BASF unit
* Say will expand production, invest, to offset this
* Focus on Norway, Russia, Argentina (Adds details, background from statement)
FRANKFURT, March 19 (Reuters) - BASF oil and gas subsidiary Wintershall expects lower oil prices to considerably reduce operating profit in 2015, but will widen output to try to offset the problem.
Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) adjusted for special items were 3 percent down at 1.795 billion euros ($1.92 billion) in 2014, the Kassel-based firm said on Thursday.
Wintershall also said it anticipated a slight decrease in sales this year. In 2014, sales rose 2 percent to 15.145 billion euros.
"Our planning for the year 2015 is based on an average oil price between $60 and $70 per barrel and a U.S. dollar exchange rate of $1.20 per euro," chief executive Rainer Seele said.
It based last year's figures on an average 2014 Brent oil price for North Sea crude oil at $99/barrel.
Wintershall is a big earnings contributor to parent company BASF. Continuación...