Noble Energy Lowers Capex Budget, Ups Projected Production
Noble Energy, Inc. announced planned capital expenditures of $1.42 billion for 2007. Capital expenditures for 2006 totaled $1.87 billion, including $0.52 billion for acquisitions.
Approximately 26 percent of the 2007 capital program has been allocated for exploration opportunities including lease acquisitions and seismic, and 74 percent is dedicated to production, development and other projects. The domestic program of $1.09 billion represents approximately 77 percent of the 2007 capital program, and international expenditures are $300 million, or 21 percent. Corporate capital expenditures of $28 million account for two percent.
Of Noble Energy's 2007 domestic capital program, approximately 29 percent is allocated to the Southern Region, which includes the Gulf Coast, Eastern Mid-continent and Gulf of Mexico deepwater operations. The Northern region, which includes the Rocky Mountain and Western Mid-continent operations, represents 71 percent of the domestic capital program. Of the total domestic capital program, approximately 18 percent is allocated to exploration, and 82 percent is for production and development.
Of the international capital program, approximately 61 percent is for exploration activities, with the balance for production and development. Of the total international capital program, approximately 51 percent is dedicated to West Africa where the company plans to appraise its discovery on Block 'O' in Equatorial Guinea and test several additional prospects in 2007. The North Sea and Mediterranean has been allocated 33 percent of the international capital program, with the remaining 16 percent going to projects in the Far East and Latin America.
Average production in 2007 is expected to range between 197,000 barrels of oil equivalent (Boepd) and 218,000 Boepd compared to preliminary estimated production for 2006 of approximately 186,800 Boepd. Production in 2006 included approximately 10,700 Boepd related to Gulf of Mexico shelf properties that were sold during the year (sold properties). Estimated production in 2007 would be 12 percent to 24 percent greater than 2006 production when excluding the 2006 volumes associated with the sold properties. The 2007 estimate includes expected natural gas sales, net to Noble Energy's interest, from the Alba field to a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility of between 13,000 Boepd and 19,000 Boepd. Estimated production volumes in 2007 provide for assumed weather-related curtailments of approximately 2,000 Boepd to 4,000 Boepd due to hurricane and severe winter weather interruptions. The preliminary 2006 estimated production figure referenced above includes December winter weather curtailments, which impacted production by approximately 2,000 Boepd during the fourth quarter of 2006.
Production for 2007 is expected to be approximately 55 percent from North America operations and 45 percent from international operations. In North America, approximately 62 percent of production is expected to be natural gas and 38 percent crude oil and condensate. Approximately 53 percent of international production is expected to be natural gas, with the remainder being crude oil, condensate and LPG.
The expected increase in year-over-year production is due to several factors:
* Production contributions from the sale of natural gas from the Alba field in Equatorial Guinea to the LNG facility. * The contribution of production from Dumbarton, which commenced on January 20, 2007. * Growing natural gas sales in Israel due to the planned conversion of additional power plants to use natural gas as fuel. * Growing production from Piceance, where Noble Energy is continuing an active drilling program. * A full year of production from the acquisition of U.S. Exploration, which closed on March 29, 2006.
For the full year 2007, costs and expenses are expected to range as follows:
* General and administrative expenses are expected to range from $2.35 per barrel of oil equivalent (BOE) to $2.75 per BOE. * Oil and gas operations expense is expected to range from $4.00 per BOE to $4.40 per BOE. * Depreciation, depletion and amortization is expected to range from $9.30 per BOE to $9.90 per BOE. * These costs and expenses expressed on a BOE basis assume the midpoint of natural gas sales to the Equatorial Guinea LNG facility of 16,000 Boepd.
Additional 2007 guidance includes the following:
* Exploration expense is expected to range from $230 million to $270 million. * An effective tax rate of 30 percent to 36 percent is expected. Of the total book taxes planned for 2007, 50 percent to 60 percent are expected to be deferred.
Exploration expense is estimated to be approximately $62 million to $102 million greater than the preliminary estimated 2006 exploration expense of $168 million. The increased expense in 2007 is principally due to substantially increased exploration activities planned for West Africa. The preliminary 2006 exploration expense includes the Glenn #6 well in South Louisiana, which was drilling at year-end and was recently determined to be non-commercial.
The above estimates do not include the impact of Noble Energy's possible asset purchases or sales, if any.
Noble Energy is an independent energy company that operates throughout major basins in the United States including Colorado's Wattenberg Field, the Mid-continent region of western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, the San Juan Basin in New Mexico, the Gulf Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, Noble Energy operates internationally in Argentina, China, Ecuador, the Mediterranean Sea, the North Sea, West Africa and Suriname. Noble Energy markets natural gas and crude oil through its subsidiary, Noble Energy Marketing, Inc.
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