Noble Energy profit beats on higher crude prices, shares rise

(Reuters) - Noble Energy Inc NBL.N on Thursday posted better-than-expected quarterly profit on improved onshore oil production and higher sales prices, sending shares of the U.S. oil and gas producer up more than 5 percent.

Oil sales volumes from the company’s U.S. onshore business were 109,000 barrels per day in the third quarter, up 23 percent from a year ago. Overall volumes from onshore assets averaged 249,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, a gain of roughly 14 percent.

The company’s total sales volumes declined by 10,000 bpd versus a year ago to 345,000 bpd due to lower offshore output in Israel and Equatorial Guinea, and the sale of its deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico assets earlier this year.

The Houston-based company said average realized prices for U.S. onshore oil rose roughly 41 percent to $65.54 per barrel from a year ago, benefiting from a rise in crude prices to four-year highs during the quarter.

Noble, which has operations in Colorado, said it is closely watching the outcome of a ballot measure in that state that would place strict curbs on new drilling activity near populated areas. The company said it has contingency plans if voters pass the measure in the Nov. 6 election.

“We are confident the measure will be defeated,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dave Stover told analysts on a conference call on Thursday.

Other energy companies with operations in Colorado, including Anadarko Petroleum Corp APC.N and Liberty Oilfield Services Inc LBRT.N, have said they could move investments and equipment to other states if the measure passes.

Noble’s total third-quarter revenue rose to $1.27 billion from $960 million.

Net income attributable to Noble was $227 million, or 47 cents per share, in the three months ended Sept. 30, compared with a loss of $136 million, or 28 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, Noble earned 27 cents per share, beating analysts’ average estimate of 18 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Noble shares were up 5.5 percent at $26.22 on Thursday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru and Liz Hampton in Houston; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Matthew Lewis