Talisman's Profit Jumps 305% from Last Year

Talisman reported its operating and financial results for the third quarter of 2008. Cash flow during the quarter was $1.7 billion, an increase of 48% from a year ago and relatively unchanged from the second quarter. Cash flow from continuing operations was also $1.7 billion.

Net income was a record $1.4 billion, an increase of 305% from a year earlier, driven by increased netbacks, mark-to-market gains on derivative contracts and stock-based compensation recovery.

Earnings from continuing operations(1) were $731 million, up 189% compared to the third quarter in 2007, driven by increased volumes and higher netbacks.

Production averaged 443,000 boe/d, 1% above the third quarter of 2007, despite the sale of approximately 40,000 boe/d of non-core assets over the past year. Production was also 3% above the previous quarter.

Production from continuing operations averaged 435,000 boe/d, 10% above the same quarter last year and 4% higher than the second quarter of 2008.

Netbacks for the quarter were $56.19/boe, up 60% from a year ago, but below $61.33/boe in the second quarter. Net debt at quarter end was $3.7 billion, down from $4.3 billion at December 31, 2007.

Talisman's unconventional gas strategy is on track, with 210 gross (129 net) wells drilled year-to-date in unconventional plays, including success in Quebec and Pennsylvania. The Company continued to focus operations with the agreed sale of non-core interests in the Netherlands.

Talisman declared a C$0.10 per share dividend, payable on December 31, 2008. The terms "cash flow", "cash flow from continuing operations", "earnings from continuing operations" and "net debt" are non-GAAP measures. Please see the advisories and reconciliations elsewhere in this press release.

"Talisman delivered another solid quarter," said John A. Manzoni, President & Chief Executive Officer. "Cash flow, at $1.7 billion, was close to the record set in the previous quarter and up 48% compared to a year ago. Production from continuing operations was up 10% year on year. We set a new record for net income in the quarter at $1.4 billion, although roughly one-third of this came from non-cash gains on our derivatives position. Excluding one-time items, earnings from continuing operations were almost three times the levels reported in the third quarter of last year. Unit operating costs fell slightly during the quarter, as anticipated.

"Strategic implementation continued on track during the quarter. We are making significant progress in the delineation and development of our unconventional resource base in North America and have spent over $1 billion to date, reflecting the impact of accelerated drilling and land purchases.

"The Company continues to build a substantial position in several parts of the Montney shale play, among which is one of the best land positions in the Groundbirch area in BC. With approximately 40,000 net acres in this area, we are accelerating our development plans.

"We are pleased with the progress of our unconventional drilling programs. Overall, Talisman has drilled more than 200 gross wells in unconventional play areas so far this year. We've also had encouraging early results from our first shale tests in Quebec and Pennsylvania.

"The UK North Sea continued to generate substantial amounts of free cash flow during the quarter, with netbacks averaging over $80/boe.

"In Malaysia/Vietnam, growth projects are being progressed, with Northern Fields first gas delivered on time during the quarter, and although start up of Song Doc has been slightly delayed, we expect first oil in the next few weeks. Northern Fields first oil remains on track for the first quarter of 2009. Early development plans for the Hai Su Trang and Hai Su Den fields are also moving toward approval. First production from Rev and Yme in Norway remains on track for the announced dates.

"We have important exploration wells currently drilling in Kurdistan and Colombia, where we have recently added new acreage. In the fourth quarter, we will spud wells in the UK (Godwin), Norway (TR3) and Qatar (TQ-3).

"Our sales program was progressed during the quarter with the agreed sale of assets in the Netherlands. The Trinidad sale is also on track.

"Production for the quarter was strong and benefited from the new projects coming on stream and the completion of planned shutdowns in the UK in particular. However, the Song Doc delay along with the extension of a planned maintenance shutdown at PM-3 CAA means that we now expect annual production to be closer to 430,000 boe/d than our previous target of 435,000 boe/d, since the achievement of this was always dependent on new project delivery in the last quarter of the year.

"The current economic environment remains volatile, and it is important that Talisman continues to implement its strategy through a period of relatively weak commodity prices. Talisman has a strong balance sheet and significant levels of liquidity.

"While we are in the early stages of finalizing our investment plans for 2009, capital programs for next year will be adjusted to ensure that we maintain our current balance sheet strength and liquidity levels through a period of weaker commodity prices. We are currently high-grading our spending plans to invest in those projects that are consistent with the strategy and have the highest returns. This is likely to result in a slowdown in expenditures in North American conventional drilling and prioritizing among our unconventional plays.

"We intend to maintain flexibility and liquidity over the next 12-24 months. Our investment plans will be finalized over the remaining months of this year and we will provide details around capital spending levels and the impact on deliverables in January.

"In summary, the third quarter was a solid quarter of delivery and we are making good progress on the strategy. Talisman is in strong financial shape and we will act to ensure our investment patterns for the remainder of this year and into 2009 allow us to preserve that strength while maintaining momentum in implementing our strategy."

Cash flow for the quarter was $1.7 billion, an increase of 48% from a year earlier with increases in both oil and natural gas prices. Cash flow from continuing operations was also $1.7 billion, up 63% from 2007, driven by higher production and prices.

Net income was a record $1.4 billion, an increase of 305% from $352 million a year ago. This includes an unrealized after-tax gain of $467 million on derivative contracts as both oil and natural gas prices fell relative to the second quarter, more than reversing the previous quarter's after-tax loss of $344 million. Talisman also recorded a $214 million after-tax recovery on stock based compensation expense.

Earnings from continuing operations totalled $731 million, compared to $253 million a year earlier and $822 million in the second quarter. This metric adjusts net income for significant one time events and non-operational items.

Depreciation, depletion and amortization (DD&A) expense from continuing operations was $620 million, up 13% from the same period last year, principally related to increased production and increased capital expenditures. Unit DD&A costs averaged $16.34/boe.

Current income taxes more than doubled from a year ago to $455 million during the quarter, reflecting higher commodity prices. The Company's effective tax rate, which includes future income taxes, averaged 36% during the quarter, compared to 52% in the same period of 2007. This was largely due to gains on derivatives and stock based compensation recovery in Canada, which has a lower tax rate than some of Talisman's other jurisdictions.

The average number of shares outstanding is down 2% year over year, reflecting share repurchases in 2007. On October 21, Talisman announced it had renewed its Normal Course Issuer Bid, allowing the Company to repurchase up to 5% of its issued and outstanding common shares.

On October 20, the Company declared a $0.10 per share dividend, payable on December 31, 2008.

At September 30, Talisman's long-term debt was $3.7 billion (net of cash), down from $4.3 billion at December 31, 2007.

The Company spent $1.4 billion on exploration and development during the quarter, up from $1.1 billion in the second quarter. The increase is due to higher spending on unconventional gas in North America and project developments in Norway and Southeast Asia.

Production for the quarter averaged 443,000 boe/d, 1% above the same quarter of 2007, constrained by the sale of non-core assets, which produced approximately 40,000 boe/d in 2007; however, volumes were 3% above the previous quarter.

Production from continuing operations (excluding production from assets sold or held for sale) averaged 435,000 boe/d during the quarter, up 10% from a year ago and 4% above the previous quarter. Of note, natural gas volumes were up 20% in Southeast Asia and 6% in North America. Oil and liquids volumes in the North Sea were up 18%.

Netbacks averaged $56.19/boe, up 60% from the third quarter of 2007. The main reason was a 57% increase in the benchmark WTI oil price, which averaged US$118/bbl in the quarter. AECO natural gas prices were approximately 50% higher than a year ago, averaging $7.34/gj.

Talisman's royalty rate averaged 18% during the quarter, unchanged from a year earlier. Unit operating costs increased 12% compared to the previous year, averaging $13.88/boe, but were down from $14.01/boe in the second quarter. Operating cost increases reflect inflationary pressures in fuel costs, labour and maintenance, as well as higher third party processing volumes in North America.