* Anadarko EPS ex-items 85 cents vs 62 cents expected
* Pioneer EPS ex-items $1.19 vs $1.03 seen by Wall St
* Both more than replace 2011 output in reserves
By Braden Reddall
Feb 6 Anadarko Petroleum Corp reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit and solid 2011 oil and gas production that it more than replaced through exploratory drilling, and its shares rose 1.5 percent.
The company also said on Monday it resumed an "active" deepwater exploration program in the Gulf of Mexico, having recently made its first discovery in the region since the moratorium that followed the BP spill.
Anadarko was a co-owner of the doomed Macondo well, and a $4 billion settlement payment to the British oil company went out in the fourth quarter, it said.
Anadarko, the largest U.S. independent oil and gas firm by market value, said it added 392 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) to reserves that now stand at 2.54 billion boe -- 55 percent of which are natural gas.
That compares with the bumper exploration year enjoyed by smaller rival Pioneer Natural Resources Co, which added 148 million boe to reserves -- or 313 percent of 2011 output. Pioneer also reported a higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Monday.
Anadarko, when one-time items such as impairments on unproved properties are included, had a fourth-quarter loss of $358 million, or 72 cents per share, compared with a net profit of $111 million, or 22 cents per share, a year earlier.
But its revenue grew by 43 percent to $3.84 billion, and the profit figure excluding items was 85 cents a share, compared with an average Wall Street estimate of 62 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Total sales of oil and gas were 248 million boe in 2011, driven by 10 percent growth in liquids output, and the total was at the top end of the Houston company's expected output range.
Dallas-based Pioneer posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $111 million, or 93 cents per share, due to non-cash derivative mark-to-market losses and other "unusual" items, it said. Excluding items, it made $147 million, or $1.19 per share, which was better than the average of $1.03 expected by Wall Street.
Yet last year's exploration success came at a cost. Pioneer's 2011 finding and development cost was $13.83 per boe, up from just under $10 the previous year. Anadarko's exploration costs were roughly similar, and steady compared with 2010.
Shares of Pioneer were quoted 26 cents higher at $106 in thin after-hours trading. Anadarko rose 1.5 percent to $84.10.