UPDATE 1-Enerplus profit falls; expects to spend more

Fri Aug 10, 2012 7:50am EDT

Aug 10 (Reuters) - Enerplus Corp said quarterly profit more than halved on weak natural gas and oil prices, and that it expects capital expenditure for the year to rise as it looks to boost production at the Fort Berthold oilfield in North Dakota.

The Canadian oil and gas producer raised its average production forecast for the second time in three months as it expects Fort Berthold to boost exit volumes.

It expects production to average 83,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d), up from its prior forecast of 83,000 boe/d.

Enerplus, which said oil and liquids now represent nearly half of its production volumes, expects to spend about C$850 million this year, up from C$800 million forecast earlier.

The net income fell to C$100.3 million ($101.1 million), or 51 Canadian cents per share, in the second quarter from C$268 million, or C$1.50 per share, a year earlier.

Average production for the company, which in 2010 acquired Bakken and Marcellus assets, rose 9 percent to 82,108 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Natural gas prices have fallen 46 percent from last year to average $2.4 per million British thermal unit in April-June, while U.S. crude oil prices fell 9 percent.

Natural gas prices have remained weak in the last two years, forcing companies such as Chesapeake and Encana to shut in some gas output or trim spending on dry gas fields and focus on oil and natural gas liquids.

Enerplus halved its monthly dividend to 9 Canadian cents in June to cope with weak prices.

Shares of Enerplus, which has a market value of about C$2.80 billion, closed at C$14.39 on Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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