Noble Fixes $2.7B for 2011 Capex
Noble announced its 2011 capital program and guidance. The Company's total capital program is estimated at $2.7 billion, with investment split relatively evenly between the United States and international operations. Approximately 42 percent of the program is going toward major project investments, 18 percent for exploration and appraisal activities, and the remaining 40 percent for ongoing maintenance and near-term growth opportunities. Major project investments include the Company's development activities in the horizontal Niobrara, deepwater Gulf of Mexico, West Africa, and Eastern Mediterranean.
"Our plans for 2011 place Noble Energy on the threshold of accelerating growth in production and cash flow. Driven by multiple years of record exploration success, the impacts from our inventory of major development projects are rapidly approaching. Our 2011 drilling program in the horizontal Niobrara play is expected to more than double over 2010 as we expand development in the Wattenberg area, while appraising the northern portions of the play. First production at Galapagos in the deepwater Gulf and Aseng in Equatorial Guinea is in the near future, and the sanctioning of Tamar and Alen in 2010 has added two more major projects to the development queue. Our strong balance sheet and cash flows from existing assets will allow us to execute this full array of programs, including a continuation of a very material exploration effort," said Charles D. Davidson, Noble Energy's Chairman and CEO.
The Company anticipates investing $875 million in the Central DJ basin. In addition to the existing vertical well program in Wattenberg, Noble Energy intends to expand horizontal Niobrara drilling activity, targeting around 70 horizontal wells in 2011. In the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, the Company's $275 million program is focused on progressing near-term oil developments at Galapagos and Raton South. It also includes three exploration wells with expectations to resume drilling at the moratorium-suspended Santiago and Deep Blue wells, along with a first appraisal well at the Gunflint discovery.
Noble Energy's core international programs in West Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean represent approximately $575 million and $650 million, respectively. In West Africa, the Company plans to advance liquid developments at Aseng and Alen, and to resume oil exploration with two to three tests in the region. The first test will be an appraisal well in the Carmen-Diega area in Equatorial Guinea. A large portion of the Eastern Mediterranean expenditures will be the development of the Tamar natural gas field, offshore Israel. Exploration plans in the Eastern Mediterranean include three to four wells, which will include at least one appraisal well at the Leviathan discovery.
The remainder of the capital program is set aside for other opportunities onshore in the United States, as well as in the North Sea and China. Excluded from the capital program is $70 million of non-cash capital to be accrued for the Aseng FPSO capital lease.
Sales volumes for 2011 are projected to range from 208 to 218 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (MBoe/d). The midpoint of the range is up about three percent compared to 2010, after excluding 2010 volumes associated with the United States onshore property sales (5 MBoe/d) and the termination of a production sharing contract in Ecuador (4 MBoe/d). Product split is estimated to be 40 percent crude oil, condensate and natural gas liquids, 30 percent international natural gas, and 30 percent domestic natural gas.
United States volumes are anticipated to be up about two percent versus adjusted 2010. The Company's ongoing development program in the Central DJ basin is projected to more than offset the natural declines expected from other non-core onshore gas properties and deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The international portfolio is expected to grow approximately four percent from adjusted 2010, largely due to higher liquids and natural gas volumes in Equatorial Guinea. Increased natural gas volumes in Israel, driven by further power generation needs, are also anticipated to contribute to the Company's growth.
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