Continental Resources up spending and production

Continental CEO Hamm says he's "never" been more excited about the potential.

By Daniel J. Graeber

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Total production from a U.S.-shale focused portfolio will grow considerably by the end of the year as recovery takes hold, Continental Resources said.

Continental is one of the more dominant companies working in the Bakken shale oil reserve in North Dakota, the No. 2 crude oil producer in the United States. The state government reported total crude oil production for October, the last full month for which the state has data, at 1.04 million barrels per day, an increase of 10,000 bpd over the previous month.


North Dakota crude oil output last year dropped below the 1 million bpd mark under pressure from an industry that saw decreased spending on exploration and production because of lower crude oil prices. From its total portfolio, which includes Oklahoma shale, Continental said it expects to produce around 220,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day on the low end, an increase of 3,000 boe from last year.

Nearly all of Continental's drilling efforts this year target North Dakota and Oklahoma and, for crude oil specifically, the company expects a 29 percent increase in production this year.

"We are capitalizing on the exceptional performance delivered by our operating teams the last two years," Chairman and CEO Harold Hamm said in a statement. "I've never been more excited by Continental's opportunities to realize the value of our premier assets and to deliver exceptional shareholder value."


Its counterpart, Hess Corp, struck a similar tone this week after announcing plans to increase spending for the year. Continental said it more than doubled its spending plans for the year to $1.95 billion.

On crude oil prices, the company said it would be cash-flow neutral if the U.S. benchmark price for crude oil averaged $55 per barrel for the year, about 4 percent above the current level.

"Continental intends to adjust the level of spend if necessary to remain cash neutral for the year," the company stated. "It also continues to target reducing long-term debt to $6 billion or lower using proceeds from the potential sale of non-strategic assets."

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