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Hess reports loss, but performed better than last year

CEO says a loss that's less severe than last year shows there is a silver lining.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Hess reports loss, but performed better than last year
Hess Corp loss during the latest quarter came in less severe than the previous year, giving company's CEO a cause for some level of optimism. Logo courtesy of Hess Corp.

NEW YORK, July 27 (UPI) -- Lower production and a lower selling price for oil meant a loss for the second quarter, though Hess Corp. said results were better than last year.

"We remain confident in our ability to manage through the current environment and deliver strong production and cash flow growth as oil prices recover," CEO John Hess said in a statement.

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Hess reported a net loss for the second quarter of $392 million, an improvement over the loss of $567 million year-on-year. Second quarter results emerged in part as a result of a selling price for crude oil at $41.95 per barrel, down about 25 percent from the same period last year.

Crude oil prices are trending moderately lower after holding in the mid $40 range since May, though prices are still above the sub-$30 mark that emerged in early 2016. Prices may be crimping investment options for energy companies like Hess, which said its second quarter spending in exploration and production was down 52 percent from last year.

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The company said it planned to spend about $2.1 billion on exploration and production for full-year 2016, a level that's 48 percent below last year and $300 million lower than its previous estimate.

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Hess started the year with an agenda focused on keeping a balanced portfolio through the weakened oil sector. At the Bakken shale reserve area in North Dakota, the company said production was lower because of a reduced drilling program. Offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, net production for Hess was almost halved because of unplanned downtime at two fields in deep U.S. waters.

Hess said nevertheless it was upbeat because of the potential for growth in North Dakota, where exploration and production has shown recent recovery, and new developments expected overseas.

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"Our resilient portfolio provides an attractive mix of growth options," the CEO said.

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