HOUSTON, April 25 (Reuters) - Oil producer Pioneer Natural Resources Co reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss on Monday as the company successfully slashed costs to offset a more than 30 percent drop in the price it received for its crude.
Like many of its peers, Pioneer has had to grapple with how best to handle the more-than 60 percent drop in oil prices since 2014, a decline that has eroded profitability throughout the industry.
Pioneer has cut operations in some areas, including the Eagle Ford shale in east Texas, but kept drilling in the Permian shale formation in West Texas, where it is one of the largest operators and has a cheaper cost of production.
The company posted a first quarter net loss of $267 million, or $1.65 per share, compared with a net loss of $78 million, or 52 cents per share, in the year-ago period.
Excluding a loss on hedging and other one-time items, the company lost 64 cents per share. By that measure, analysts expected a loss of 78 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Production rose 3 percent sequentially to 222,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
The company slashed its average production costs and other expenditures during the quarter, helping to preserve cash.
Pioneer kept intact plans to spend $2 billion on capital projects, much of which will be spent in the Permian basin. Unlike most peers, the company isn't relying on debt to fund that budget, but rather a combination of cash flow and asset sales.
The company plans to bring 230 Permian wells online this year.
"We have the financial flexibility to prudently manage through the current commodity price downturn and quickly ramp up drilling activity when prices improve," Chief Executive Scott Sheffield said in a press release.
The company plans a conference call to discuss quarterly results on Tuesday morning.
Shares of Dallas-based Pioneer, considered one of the leaders in the U.S. shale oil industry, closed Monday at $153.33, up about 22 percent so far this year.
(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Andrew Hay)
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