Hess (HES)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

October 26, 2011 10:00 am ET

Executives

John P. Rielly - Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer and Senior Vice President

Jay R. Wilson - Vice President of Investor Relations

John B. Hess - Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Gregory P. Hill - Executive Vice President, President of Worldwide Exploration & Production and Director

Analysts

Katherine Lucas Minyard - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Evan Calio - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Arjun N. Murti - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Paul Y. Cheng - Barclays Capital, Research Division

John P. Herrlin - Societe Generale Cross Asset Research

Mark Gilman - The Benchmark Company, LLC, Research Division

Edward Westlake - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Philip Weiss - Argus Research Company

Paul Sankey - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Douglas George Blyth Leggate - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Robert A. Kessler - Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. Securities, Inc., Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the 2011 Third Quarter Hess Corporation Earnings Conference Call. My name is Modesta, and I will be your coordinator for today. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded for replay purposes.

I would now like to turn the conference over to your host for today, Mr. Jay Wilson, Vice President, Investor Relations. Please proceed, sir.

Jay R. Wilson

Thank you, Modesta. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for participating in our third quarter earnings conference call. Earnings release was issued this morning and appears on our website, www.hess.com.

Today's conference call contains projections and other forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. These statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ from those expressed or implied in such statements.

With me today are John Hess, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer; Greg Hill, President, Worldwide Exploration and Production; and John Rielly, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

I'll now turn the call over to John Hess.

John B. Hess

Thank you, Jay, and welcome to our third quarter conference call. I will make a few brief comments, after which John Rielly will review our financial results.

Net income for the third quarter of 2011 was $298 million versus $1.154 billion a year ago. Our third quarter results included charges of $140 million for abandonment liabilities primarily in the U.K. North Sea and $44 million for an increase in the U.K. supplemental petroleum tax rate. These charges were partially offset by $103 million gain from the sale of Hess' interest in the Snorre Field in Norway and the Cook Field in the United Kingdom. Also, last year's third quarter results included a net nonrecurring gain of $725 million. Excluding these adjustments, earnings for the third quarter of 2011 were $379 million versus $429 million a year ago.

Exploration and Production reported net income of $422 million. Crude oil and natural gas production averaged 344,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, which was 17% below the year-ago period. Aside from the sale of mature U.K. natural gas assets early in the year, most of the year-over-year production decline was due to several short-term setbacks. We are pleased to say that most of these issues are being resolved and that with the exception of Libya, we are in the process of recovering lost volumes.

In Norway, a fire at the outside-operated Valhall Field in July resulted in the field being shut in for more than 2 months, negatively impacting third quarter production by approximately 20,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. Operations resumed September 17 and net production is currently averaging more than 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

In the Gulf of Mexico, the Llano #3 well was producing at a net rate of approximately 10,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day prior to being shut in due to mechanical issues in the first quarter of this year. The operator plans to perform a workover and restore production in the first half of 2012.

In Libya, approximately 23,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day of net production remains shut in due to civil unrest. We cannot estimate when production will resume until security returns to the country. With regard to the Bakken, net production averaged 32,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the third quarter, up from 25,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the second quarter. Currently, net production from the Bakken is approximately 39,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. As a result of the increased acreage position from last year's acquisitions and positive oil results year-to-date, we forecast net production from the Bakken will increase to 60,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2012 and to 120,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2015.

In September, we announced the acquisition of 185,000 net acres in the emerging Utica Shale play in Eastern Ohio principally through 2 separate transactions. We entered into an agreement with CONSOL Energy, which closed last week, to acquire a 50% interest in nearly 200,000 acres for aggregate payments of $593 million over 5 years. We also acquired market exploration and other leasehold interest which added another 85,000 net acres at a cost of approximately $750 million.

With these transactions, we have built a strategic acreage position in Utica Shale, strengthening our portfolio of high quality unconventional assets, leveraging our operating expertise and creating significant potential for future growth in reserves and production. Appraisal activities on this acreage are planned to commence in the fourth quarter.

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