- Associated Press - Sunday, February 19, 2017

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Devon Energy, which operates in the Powder River and Wind River basins, reported net earnings of $331 million in the last three months of 2016 compared to a $4.5 billion loss the previous year, though its focus crawling out of the downturn has largely been outside the Cowboy state.

After a crushing year for oil and gas markets, companies are starting to post earnings for 2016 and projections for the coming year, with a number of companies scheduled to report in the final weeks of February, the Casper Star-Tribune reported Sunday (https://bit.ly/2lA140A).

Despite starting 2016 at under $40 a barrel, oil prices stabilized later in the year on hopes of decreased international overproduction. The benchmark oil price, WTI, has found a plateau over $50 a barrel. Natural gas prices responded well to colder temperatures and remain at a little more than $3 per mcf.

Devon’s earnings report focused on the success of cutting costs and tightening operations to pull it out of the 2015 bust.

Wyoming represented about 3 percent of the Oklahoma City-based company’s overall production in years past. However, it benefited in 2016 from the lucrative resource plays in Oklahoma and Texas, where the bust slowed much quicker than in Wyoming.

The company’s financial security will be further invested in these sure-bet plays going into 2017, said David Hager, a Devon executive.

“While 2016 will certainly be remembered for extreme volatility in the energy markets, our unwavering focus on the controllable aspects of our business yielded extremely strong results,” he said in an earnings call with investors Wednesday.

A $3.2 billion divestment program put Devon in a place to increase investments in its most lucrative areas, he said.

The company has retired $2.5 billion in debt, and sold its 50 percent share in the Access Pipeline for $1.1 billion.

Despite low prices, Devon’s well productivity was the highest in its history in 2016, according to a company press release.

Devon will double its drilling rigs in the field from the end of 2016 to the end of 2017.

Other companies are reporting their losses and gains after the whirlwind year.

Last month Anadarko, the mammoth company that operates in the Powder River, Washakie and Green River basins, reported a $3 billion loss for 2016. It spent $2.5 billion in acquiring new reserves. The company reduced its investments last year by 50 percent compared to 2015.

Its executives anticipate the benchmark price of oil will hit $60 a barrel in the months ahead.

Ultra Petroleum will report its 2016 earnings on Tuesday. The company, which filed for bankruptcy protection in May of 2016 with $3.9 billion in debt, has a March 14 hearing to approve its bankruptcy exit strategy. It recently announced that 67 percent of its debtholders agreed to the plan.

Denbury Resources will report earnings Wednesday, followed by EOG Resources on Feb. 28.


Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, https://www.trib.com

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