Halliburton rides oil boom to 4Q profit (AP)
NEW YORK ? Halliburton's net income spiked 50 percent in the final three months of 2011 as one of the world's biggest oilfield services companies shifted its focus from natural gas to oil, with a barrel of crude again trading near the triple digit mark yet again.
Energy companies are capitalizing on new technology to reach crude that was once prohibitively expensive to pump, especially in the United States, and Halliburton has benefited immensely.
The Houston company posted earnings of $906 million, or 98 cents per share, for the fourth quarter. That compares with $605 million, or 66 cents per share, for the same part of 2010.
Excluding a $15 million charge for an "environmental-related matter," Halliburton Co. earned $1 per share in the quarter. Revenue increased 36.9 percent to $7.06 billion.
The boom in shale drilling across regions of North America boosted Halliburton's 2011 earnings to $2.84 billion, or $3.08 per share, compared with $1.84 billion, or $2.02 per share, in 2010. Annual revenue increased 38.1 percent to $24.8 billion.
Hydraulic fracturing, still a relatively new technology, has allowed energy companies to get to oil and natural gas from fields that had been left behind with most of the remaining resources trapped in shale rock. Halliburton and others use a mix of highly pressurized water and chemicals to break apart those shale formations and free the resources contained within.
That has reshaped the industry enormously in recent years, and those changes continued Monday with the announcement that oil and gas producer Apache Corp. would buy privately held Cordillera Energy Partners III LLC in a deal valued at $2.85 billion. Apache wants access to Cordillera's approximately 254,000 net acres in the Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, where the company sees a strong potential for producing new sources of oil.
Increasingly, the industry has been turning away from natural gas fields in favor of wells that produce more oil. Oil prices increased more than 10 percent in the fourth quarter while natural gas prices dropped by 13 percent.
Benchmark crude traded above $99 per barrel on Monday.
"We are proactively moving equipment from dry natural gas to liquids plays in North America in response to recent rig moves," Halliburton CEO Dave Lesar said."
Halliburton also saw an increase in drilling in Gulf of Mexico during the fourth quarter. Operating income also grew in Latin America, while falling in Europe and North Africa and holding steady in the Middle East.
Overall, the company's completion and production business increased profits 58 percent while its drilling and evaluation business increased profits by 35.6 percent.
Lesar said he expects the company to increase revenue worldwide in 2012.
Schlumberger Ltd., another major oil services firm, reported a 36 percent jump in fourth-quarter profits last week.
Halliburton shares fell 35 cents to $35.85 in premarket trading.
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