Hess Corp. raises its spending target for exploration and production even after recording a net loss for the fourth quarter. File photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Though production was lower during the fourth quarter, U.S. energy company Hess Corp. said 2017 was evolving so far as a year of transformation.
"We see 2017 as the start of an exciting new chapter of value-driven growth for our company and our shareholders," CEO John Hess said in a statement.
Hess started last year with an agenda focused on keeping a balanced portfolio through the weakened oil sector. It reported a net loss for the third quarter of $339 million, compared with a net loss of $279 million during the same period last year.
Losses continued into the latter quarter of 2016 even as crude oil prices held steady above the range of $50 per barrel, after sinking to historic lows in the first quarter of last year. The company said it took an adjusted net loss for the fourth quarter of $305 million.
Production, meanwhile, stagnated for the company. Total oil and gas production was 311,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the fourth quarter, down 15 percent year-on-year. The company reported a rough quarter in North Dakota in particular, with production off 13 percent from fourth quarter 2015.
The company blamed a "severe winter" and a reduced drilling program in North Dakota for the declines during 2016. Elsewhere, the company reported recent gains overseas and a resumption of operations in Libya, where war sidelined operations for the better part of the last three years.
Hess had a role in the Liza field in Guyana, which was considered the industry's largest find in a decade.
Oil and natural gas companies are moving back into service after sidelining some of their operations because of lower oil prices last year. With Brent crude oil prices in the $50 range, Hess said it was planning to spend about $2.25 billion on exploration and production this year, up from the $1.9 billion designated for 2016.
Hess during the fourth quarter realized a crude oil selling price of $45.97 per barrel, up 5 percent year-on-year.