Pioneer Lifts Argentine NatGas Sales Volumes 33% in Q1

US oil company Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE: PXD) increased its Argentine natural gas sales volumes 33% to 130 million cubic feet a day (Mf3/d) from 97.8Mf3/d in the same period last year, the company said in its Q1 earnings statement.

First quarter natural gas prices in Argentina were up 51.7% to US$0.88/Mf3 from US$0.58 in 1Q04. Gas prices were frozen in early 2002 as part of the government's emergency measures following the devaluation of the peso. However, they are gradually improving as government-decreed price increases start to take effect, executive VP and CFO Richard Dealy said in a conference call to discuss Q1 results.

The government allowed gradual price hikes for large consumers starting last year, but gas prices for residential customers will remain frozen until 2006. However, strong demand for natural gas on the spot market has resulted in an average price increase of US$2.00/Mf3, Dealy said.

Pioneer has sold natural gas on the spot market this second quarter at a "record price" of US$2.40/Mf3, president and CEO Scott Sheffield said in the call. "Argentina continues to grow in production and gas prices are continuing to move up." Dealy also said the company anticipates increased production during the coming Argentine winter.


Pioneer's average crude sales volume was 8,191 barrels a day (b/d) in the first quarter, down 5.1% compared with the same period last year. However, prices increased 13.7% to US$31.75/b. Sales volumes of natural gas liquids in Q1 increased 10.4% to 1,572b/d. Prices were up slightly to US$30.35 from US$29.16. Company-wide, Pioneer posted first quarter net profits of US$84.7mn, up 41% year-on-year.

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