UPDATE 2-Hess profit beats as Norwegian output jumps

Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:55am EDT

* 1st-qtr adjusted EPS $1.38 vs. Street $1.04

* 2nd-qtr production forecast at least 295,000 boed

* Shares up about 1 pct at midday (Adds financial details, updates stock price)

April 30 (Reuters) - Oil and natural gas producer Hess Corp reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, helped in part by a jump in Norwegian production.

The company, which is also a major operator in North Dakota's Bakken shale formation and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, posted first-quarter net income of $386 million, or $1.20 per share, compared with $1.28 billion, or $3.72 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, the company posted a profit of $1.38 per share.

By that measure, analysts on average expected earnings of $1.04 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Hess produced 318,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed) in the first quarter, down from 389,000 boed a year earlier. For the second quarter, the company expects to produce 295,000 to 300,000 boed, excluding its weakened Libya operations.

The New York-based company sold some acreage as well as its refining and retail gasoline businesses in the first quarter of last year, artificially boosting that period's results.

Production during the quarter jumped in the company's Valhall field in Norway to 37,000 boed from 5,000 boed in the same period last year due to a redevelopment project.

While North Dakota production fell in the first quarter as the company completed the expansion of its Tioga gas plant, the project is now finished, and Bakken production is currently in excess of 80,000 boed, Hess said.

The company expects to produce about 80,000 to 90,000 boed of North Dakota oil in the second quarter.

Executives said they are moving forward on a planned master limited partnership for their North Dakota pipeline assets, and expect the transaction to be completed by 2015. Hess would keep a majority stake in the MLP, executives said.

Shares of Hess were up 0.9 percent at $88.85 on the New York Stock Exchange at midday on Wednesday. (Reporting by Ernest Scheyder in New York; editing by Franklin Paul, Lisa Von Ahn and Matthew Lewis)

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