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Hess Corporation Posts Lower-Than-Expected Q4 Loss

Hess Corporation (NYSE:HES) beat analyst estimates, reporting on Wednesday a fourth-quarter adjusted net loss of US$305 million, down from a US$396-million loss for the fourth quarter of 2015, on the back of higher realized crude selling prices and improved total production unit costs.

The US$305-million adjusted net loss translates into a loss of US$1.01 per common share, compared with a US$1.40-loss per common share in the fourth quarter of 2015. The Zacks Consensus Estimate had expected Hess’ loss to be US$1.09 per share.

Including a non-cash accounting charge of US$3.749 billion on deferred tax assets and other after-tax charges of a total of US$838 million, the net loss widened to US$4.892 billion from a US$1.821-billion loss for the fourth quarter of 2015. Hess had warned of the billion-dollar extraordinary charges in a press release two weeks ago, in which it also said it would be raising its E&P capital and exploratory budget to US$2.25 billion from the 2016 actual spend of US$1.9 billion.

Today Hess reiterated the E&P planned spend for 2017 and said its 2016 expenditure was 54 percent lower than the US$4 billion investment made in 2015.

Regarding the plans for the 2017 capex, Hess is bullish on the Bakken in North Dakota.

The corporation will spend this year US$700 million on unconventional shale resources, primarily to increase from 2 rigs to 6 rigs by the end of 2017 and to bring online around 75 new wells in the Bakken. Another US$375 million is planned primarily for production activities in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico and for operations at the Valhall Field in Norway where drilling will resume in late first quarter of 2017. Hess has allocated US$825 million for developments - in the Stampede Field in the Gulf of Mexico, the North Malay Basin in Malaysia, and Liza Field in Guyana. Another US$350 million would go to exploration and appraisal at the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana that include appraising the Liza Field.

Spending might be rising, but production is expected slightly down this year. Hess sees oil and gas output - excluding Libya - at 300,000-310,000 boepd compared to 2016 net production of 321,000 boepd.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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