Marathon Oil Slashes Spending A Second Time, Profit Rises


Feb 18 (Reuters) - Marathon Oil Corp on Wednesday said it would cut its 2015 capital budget by another 20 percent to $3.5 billion, and reported that fourth-quarter profit rose, on a gain related to the sale of oil and gas properties in Angola and Norway.

Oil companies have made drastic budget cuts in response to a collapse in the price of crude oil. Since June, oil prices have fallen by about half, whipsawed by growing supplies and waning demand.

"Though our U.S. resource plays generate competitive returns at current pricing, we're taking action to materially reduce our 2015 capital program relative to 2014 to protect our financial flexibility," Marathon Chief Executive Lee Tillman said in a statement.

Marathon, which said in December it was slashing 2015 spending about 20 percent, stated it would make a second budget cut of another 20 percent to $3.5 billion.

Profit in the quarter was $926 million, or $1.37 per share, compared with $375 million, or 54 cents, in the year-ago period.

Adjusting for one-time items including $932 million related to the sale of its operations in Norway and Angola, Marathon had an adjusted loss from continuing operations of 13 cents per share as prices for oil fell sharply.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 3 cents per share, according to Thomson/Reuters/I/B/E/S.

The company said its output, excluding Libya, would rise 5 percent to 7 percent this year. By comparison, in 2014 Marathon's total company production increased 8 percent.

Shares of Marathon edged slightly lower to $29 in after-hours trading, down 2 cents from a New York Stock Exchange close of $29.02.

(Reporting by Anna Driver; Editing by Terry Wade; EDiting by Seve Orlofsky)


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