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Continental Resources calls for patience

U.S. shale leader reports a $139.7 million loss for the fourth quarter.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Feb. 25, 2016 at 6:20 AM
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. shale leader Continental Resources reported a net loss for the fourth quarter and said it would trim spending in an effort to return value to shareholders.

The company, one of the larger stakeholders in the Bakken shale oil play in North Dakota and Montana, said it took a $139.7 million loss in the fourth quarter. Spending for the year will be cut by just over 60 percent. The company targeted its budget at $920 million

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In January, the company said its budget would be cash-flow neutral if West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for crude oil prices, is $37 per barrel on average for the year. WTI was trading around $31.70 per barrel in early Thursday trading.

"For 2016, we will remain patient and disciplined in our activities while striving to enhance shareholder value through continued improvements in our core plays," Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Harold Hamm said in a statement.

Chief Financial Officer John Hart said earlier this year that more cost reductions could materialize as the company hones its spending around core operating areas.

Crude oil prices are near 10-year lows in a market characterized by low demand and higher production levels. Continental's fourth-quarter net production of 224,900 barrels of oil equivalent per day marked a 16 percent increase from fourth quarter 2014, but a slight drop from third quarter 2015. Production from the Bakken shale reserve increased during the fourth quarter.

The company said it expected February production to increase by about a half percent to 225,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

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