Oct 29 (Reuters) - Oil and gas producer Hess Corp posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday as production jumped and costs fell in North Dakota's booming Bakken shale formation.
The company, which also produces oil in Norway, Ohio and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, said it was watching oil prices closely and may change its operations if prices fall further, though no decision has been made.
The price of Brent crude has fallen about 21 percent in recent months, prompting concern that drilling could slow. Hess bases its budget on Brent prices around $100 per barrel, though the commodity traded at about $87 on Wednesday.
If prices fall too low, oil companies tend to stop drilling new wells and slow existing production in an effort to cut costs. Hess didn't announce any steps like that on Wednesday, but said it is watching the situation closely.
"We are reviewing our plans and actions we might take in a lower-price environment," Chief Executive Officer John Hess said on a conference call with investors.
Every $1 dip in the price per barrel of crude cuts corporate profit by $8 million, Hess said.
Net income surged to $1 billion, or $3.31 per share, in the third quarter from $420 million, or $1.23 per share, in the year-ago period.
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