Whiting Slashes Capex, Suspends Bakken Fracking


Whiting Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: WLL) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2015 results after markets closed Wednesday. For the quarter, the oil and gas exploration and production company posted an adjusted diluted net loss per share of $0.43 on revenues of $423.5 million. In the same period a year ago, the company reported earnings per share (EPS) of $0.44 on revenues of $696.1 million. Fourth-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for a net loss of $0.30 per share.

Whiting said it will suspend all hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and slash capital spending by 80% year over year. The capex budget for 2016 is set at $500 million and the company plans to spend about $440 million to shut down its drilling and completion operations beginning in the second quarter.

Whiting said it expects to end the year with an inventory of 73 drilled, uncompleted wells in the Bakken and 95 drilled, uncompleted wells in the Niobrara shale play. Full-year production is projected at 128,000 to 138,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day compared with 155,100 per day in 2015 and 131,260 in 2014.

For the full year, Whiting posted a net loss of $0.80 per share and revenues of $2.05 billion compared with 2014 EPS of $4.15 and revenues of $3.09 billion.

For the quarter, Whiting took an impairment charge of $10.77 million on its oil and gas assets. For the year impairment charges totaled $1.09 billion.

CEO James J. Volker gave the company’s outlook statement:

In 2015, we took decisive action to position our company for a ‘lower for longer’ oil price environment. We proactively accessed the capital markets in early 2015 to strengthen our balance sheet and enhance our liquidity. We also sold $512 million of non-core assets during 2015, which further enhanced liquidity and improved our cost structure. As a result of these actions, we ended the year with $2.7 billion of liquidity, an attractive average weighted coupon rate of 4.5% on our bonds, and no major bond maturities until 2019.

Consensus estimates call for a first-quarter net loss of $0.49 per share on revenues of $407.33 million. For the full year, analysts are expecting a net loss of $1.40 and $1.79 billion in revenues.

Shares traded up about 7.7% in the after-hours session and were inactive Thursday morning, having closed at $3.71 in a 52-week range of $3.61 to $41.57. The low was posted Wednesday. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $14.47 before the report.

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