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Berry Petroleum Company (NYSE: BRY) reported net earnings of $34 million, or $0.61 per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2012. Net earnings for the quarter were affected by a non-core asset sale, a gain on sale of derivatives, non-cash changes in the mark to market of derivatives, and other items. Excluding these items, adjusted net earnings was $50.3 million, or $0.91 per diluted share. Sales of oil and natural gas were $234 million during the quarter. Discretionary cash flow for the quarter totaled $131.5 million and net cash provided by operating activities totaled $155 million.
Operating margins for the quarter were $54 per BOE, up from $48 per BOE in the fourth quarter of 2011. Total production in the first quarter of 2012 averaged 34,447 BOE/D, down 4% from the fourth quarter of 2011. Natural gas production declined 8% during the quarter, while oil production declined 2%. Total production for the first quarter of 2012 and fourth quarter of 2011 were as follows:
First Quarter 2012
Fourth Quarter 2011
Natural gas (BOE/D)
Robert Heinemann, president and chief executive officer stated, "Berry's first quarter production was impacted by our Diatomite and Permian assets. Diatomite production averaged 2,685 BOE/D, down 300 BOE/D from the fourth quarter of 2011. As we have previously discussed, we have begun implementing a redesign of our development of the Diatomite. The redesign includes bringing a larger number of wells into production simultaneously, utilizing smaller injection cycles, and monitoring real-time asset performance. Each of these changes was designed to minimize subsurface wellbore stress. We have drilled approximately 90 wells since the beginning of the fourth quarter of last year and have commenced steam injection in these wells. These changes impacted ongoing operations throughout the quarter as we had to temporarily take more producing wells off-line to accommodate the drilling and simultaneous start-up of our new wells. These wells have since returned to production, and this drilling process is included in our plan going forward."