Hess Corporation (NYSE: HES) updates realized selling prices and operating data for the first two months of the fourth quarter of 2013 and its guidance for the fourth quarter. In addition, Hess provides information on its continuing progress toward becoming a pure play Exploration and Production company. Exploration and Production: Worldwide realized selling prices for crude oil for the first two months of the fourth quarter of 2013 averaged $98.65 per barrel compared to $104.95 per barrel in the full third quarter, primarily driven by an $11 decrease in U.S. crude oil price realizations, reflecting the widening in crude oil spreads between Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent and Louisiana Light Sweet (LLS). This decrease in realized crude oil selling prices is expected to result in fourth quarter earnings, excluding non-recurring items, being lower than the third quarter. Fourth quarter 2013 production is now forecast to average 310,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) versus our previous guidance of 320,000 boepd. The decrease reflects the earlier than expected close of the sale of our interest in the Natuna A Field in Indonesia and higher production downtime due to maintenance activities. Fourth quarter 2013 total unit costs (cash costs and depletion, depreciation and amortization expense) are expected to be in line with the previous guidance of $48 to $50 per barrel. The E&P effective tax rate, excluding non-recurring items for the fourth quarter, is still expected to be in the range of 39 to 41 percent. Returning Capital to Shareholders: During the first two months of the fourth quarter of 2013, the company purchased approximately 9.1 million shares of common stock, bringing cumulative purchases through November 30 to 15.6 million shares at a weighted average price of $79.37 per share. The weighted average number of shares (diluted) was approximately 336.2 million for the first two months of the fourth quarter. Portfolio reshaping: Thus far in the fourth quarter, Hess has closed the sale of its U.S. East Coast and St. Lucia terminal network for $850 million, its Energy Marketing business for $1.2 billion and its Natuna A asset in Indonesia for $650 million. The company also recently announced the sale of its interest in the Pangkah asset in Indonesia for $650 million, bringing total after tax proceeds from announced and completed asset sales to $7.8 billion year-to-date.