(Adds forecast, Q4 details)
Feb 13 (Reuters) - U.S. oil and gas producer Noble Energy Inc reported a surprise adjusted profit for the fourth quarter, helped by lower expenses and higher oil prices.
Oil producers are betting big on a rise in crude prices by raising capital spending and buying up acreage in low-cost, oil-rich regions such as the Permian Basin of Texas.
Last month, Noble announced that it would buy smaller rival Clayton Williams Energy to boost its presence in the region.
The company said on Monday that sales volumes for the current year are expected to average 415,000 to 425,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, including sales from Clayton.
Noble reported 2016 sales volumes of 420,000 boed.
The company’s total operating expenses fell about 47 percent to $1.37 billion in the quarter ended Dec. 31.
Net loss attributable to Noble narrowed to $252 million, or 59 cents per share, in the quarter, from $2.03 billion, or $4.73 per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, the company earned 26 cents per share. Analysts on average had expected a loss of 10 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The Houston, Texas-based company’s total revenue rose 17 percent to $1.01 billion, but missed the average analyst estimate of $1.03 billion.
Total sales volumes dropped 2.8 percent. (Reporting by John Benny in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)