* Expects about $9 bln from asset sales in Kazakhstan,
* Third-quarter profit up 39 pct, beats estimates
* Trims full-year production forecast, cites Libya
* A Libya sale would be difficult-CFO
By Garima Goel and Anna Driver
Oct 31 ConocoPhillips, abandoning
higher-risk assets in favor of oilfields closer to home, said it
expects proceeds of nearly $9 billion from the sale of its
interests in Kazakhstan, Algeria and Nigeria.
Conoco's plan to focus on North America was reinforced on
Thursday when the largest independent U.S. oil producer trimmed
its output forecast for the year due to unrest in Libya.
The reduced forecast was the main black spot in
Houston-based Conoco's third-quarter results. The company
reported a better-than-expected 39 percent jump in profit, due
in part to higher oil and natural gas prices.
ConocoPhillips, like rival U.S. oil producers Occidental
Petroleum Corp and Hess Corp, is selling some of
its assets abroad to reduce exposure to conflict and political
risk, focusing instead on the shale oil boom at home.
"What they are doing now is derisking the portfolio by
returning more toward North America," said Brian Youngberg, an
energy company analyst at Edward Jones in St. Louis.
Conoco has sold its minority interest in the international
consortium developing the Kashagan project in Kazakhstan - a
mammoth project in the Caspian Sea that has proven to be the
world's most expensive oilfield.
The company has struck separate deals to sell its Algerian
business unit to Indonesian state oil firm Pertamina, and its
Nigerian assets to a local oil firm, Oando.
Conoco said on Thursday that these three transactions were
expected to generate proceeds of about $9 billion. It did not
say when it expected to realize these proceeds.
With the Kashagan sale having closed, it was a "clear
positive" that Conoco would now be able to access the proceeds,
analysts at Houston-based energy investment bank Simmons & Co
wrote in a note.
The company said its third-quarter profit, which rose to
$2.5 billion from $1.8 billion a year earlier, was also
bolstered by the sale of the undeveloped Clyden oil sands in
Canada and assets in Trinidad and Tobago.
But Conoco, citing "ongoing production disruptions" in
Libya, said it expected full-year production from continuing
operations to be in a range of 1.505 million to 1.515 million
barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day.
It had earlier forecast output in 2013 to be 1.515 million
to 1.530 million boe per day.
"Libya for us is about 50,000 barrels a day that's now at
zero essentially and we don't have any good insight as to when
that might return to production," Conoco Chief Financial Officer
Jeff Sheets said in an interview. "We don't anticipate we are
going to do anything with our Libya position in the near term
because there is a fair bit of uncertainty there."
A sale would be difficult in today's market, the executive
Libya's oil exports have plunged in recent weeks to around
10 percent of its capacity before the 2011 civil war broke out,
as renewed protests have halted operations at ports and fields.
The interim government there has struggled to kick-start
development and deliver on expectations of a higher living
standard since Muammar Gaddafi's fall.
Hess Corp, which reported its third-quarter results this
week, also cited unrest in Libya as the main reason for a sharp
reduction in production and profit.
"Nothing really positive is coming at this point from Libya
for anybody," said Youngberg.
Back home in the United States, production from the Eagle
Ford, Bakken and Permian shale deposits rose 40 percent in the
third quarter, Conoco said.
Excluding one-time items, the company earned $1.47 per share
in the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with the average
analysts' estimate of $1.45, according to Thomson Reuters
Conoco's shares edged up 49 cents, or less than 1 percent,
to $73.74 on the New York Stock Exchange.