Exploration and Production
Production sold during the first quarter is estimated to be approximately 338,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd). Revenues are reported based on production sold during the period, which can vary from production available for sale primarily as a result of the timing of international crude oil liftings and natural gas sales. Oil and natural gas production available for sale during the first quarter is expected to be approximately 343,000 boepd, within the previous first quarter guidance of 335,000 to 355,000 boepd.
The average West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil market price indicator for the first quarter 2007 average was approximately $2 per barrel less than for the fourth quarter 2006. Partially offsetting this decline were more favorable offsets to WTI for a number of other crude oil grades. As a result, the Company's domestic liquid hydrocarbon price realizations for January and February were marginally lower compared to fourth quarter 2006. The Company's average international liquid hydrocarbon realization for the first two months of 2007 declined approximately $6 per barrel compared to the Company's average fourth quarter 2006 realizations, reflecting liquid hydrocarbon price declines in the first two months as well as the timing of liftings.
The Henry Hub (HH) prompt natural gas market price indicator strengthened approximately 50 cents per million British thermal units (BTU) during the first quarter, while the first quarter HH bid week natural gas price indicator increased approximately 20 cents per million BTU's over the same period. Marathon's average domestic natural gas price realizations increased in line with these indicators in the first two months of the quarter. International average gas realizations remained relatively flat in the first two months of the quarter compared to fourth quarter 2006 results. Marathon's actual crude oil and natural gas price realizations vary from market indicators primarily due to product quality and location differentials.
First quarter exploration expense is now estimated to be between $70 and $90 million. U.S. exploration expense is estimated to be between $40 and $50 million, while international exploration expense is estimated to be $30 to $40 million.
Unallocated Administrative Expense and Other Information
Total pre-tax unallocated administrative expense for the quarter is estimated to be $80 to $90 million.
The overall corporate income tax rate, excluding special items, is expected to be approximately 45 to 47 percent. The income tax rate for the Refining, Marketing and Transportation segment is expected to be relatively in-line with that realized for the full year 2006 at approximately 36 to 37 percent. The Exploration and Production segment is expected to incur a first quarter tax rate of approximately 52 to 54 percent, in-line with the full year 2006 tax rate.
The Company continued its share repurchase program during the quarter, reducing the quarterly average diluted share count to an estimated 348 million common shares outstanding for the period. The Company purchased approximately 5.0 million shares of its common stock during the first quarter, at a cost of approximately $452 million. At the end of the first quarter, the Company had repurchased almost 25.8 million shares at a total cost of approximately $2.2 billion. The Company's Board of Directors initially authorized a $2 billion share repurchase program in January 2006 and extended this program to $2.5 billion in January of this year.
Earnings Release Date and Conference Call Information
Marathon will report its first quarter 2007 results on May 1, 2007. The Company will also conduct a conference call and webcast that same day at 2 p.m. EDT. The call will cover first quarter 2007 financial results and may include forward-looking information. Interested parties can listen to this call and view associated slides by accessing the Marathon Oil Corporation Web site at www.marathon.com and clicking on the First Quarter 2007 Financial Results Conference Call link. Replays of the conference call will be available on the Web site through May 15, 2007. Financial information, including earnings releases and other investor-related material, also is available online.
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