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This is our year, Hess Corp. says

Company raises spending target on exploration and production by nearly 20 percent.

By Daniel J. Graeber
This is our year, Hess Corp. says
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

RELATED Hess: North Dakota ready once oil prices recover

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.

RELATED Hess reports loss, but performed better than last year

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