ConocoPhillips reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss on Feb. 2, thanks to steadying crude prices that also saw the top U.S. independent oil producer raise its capital budget for 2021.
Crude oil prices are holding on to gains from a rebound in late-2020 after a coronavirus-induced slump, with Brent crude hovering around $58 per barrel on Feb. 2, after averaging around $45 in the last three months of 2020.
ConocoPhillips, which completed the $13.3 billion buyout of Concho Resources in January, the biggest pure shale acquisition by any company since 2011, set a $5.5 billion spending budget for 2021, much of which will be used to sustain current production.
Only about $400 million will be invested in major projects, primarily in Alaska, and in ongoing exploration appraisal activity, the company said.
While some shale drillers have restored volumes curtailed due to the demand slump on the back of a price recovery, producers are still wary of increasing output, with rising coronavirus infections and new travel restrictions in some parts of the world dampening demand forecasts.
On a sequential basis, ConocoPhillips’ fourth-quarter production excluding Libya climbed 7.3% to 1.1 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. Average realized price was $33.21 per barrel of oil equivalent, 7% higher than the third quarter.
The company reported a net loss of $772 million in the quarter, compared with $450 million in the third.
Excluding a non-cash impairment charge related to its Alaska North Slope Gas and Lower 48 assets, it posed a loss of 19 cents per share, while analysts were expecting a loss of 28 cents per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
The company reported a profit of $720 million for the same quarter a year earlier.
Shares in the Houston-based company, which also handily beat revenue estimates, were up nearly 2% in premarket trade.
The Scoop and Stack plays are still in the money but only with improved well spacing and effective management of frac-driven interactions.
The latest discovery was made by the Mako-1 well drilled about 10 km southeast of the Liza Field.
The March 20 lease sale in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico brought in $244.3 million in high bids.