Oil and gas company Noble Energy Inc (NBL.N) reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as production shot up, mainly in the oil basin of Denver-Julesburg (DJ) in Colorado.
The Houston-based company said output from DJ Basin, which extends to southeast Wyoming, western Nebraska and western Kansas, rose 15 percent during September-December.
Noble Energy said current-quarter total production would be lower than the preceding quarter, partly due to maintenance at its deepwater project in the Gulf of Mexico, but reiterated its full-year production target.
The company expects to produce 238,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) to 242,000 boe per day in the current quarter. It produced 254,000 boe per day in the fourth quarter.
DJ basin produced 86,000 boe per day.
Total sales volume in the fourth quarter rose 18 percent to 255,000 boe per day, with liquids contributing about half.
Noble Energy, which also operates in Cyprus, China and Equatorial Guinea, has allocated nearly 43 percent of its $3.9 billion budget for 2013 to the DJ basin, expecting to raise production by 25 percent this year.
Rival Marathon Oil Corp (MRO.N) said on Wednesday it expected oil and gas output available for sale in 2013 to be 6 percent to 8 percent higher.
Noble Energy reported a profit of $251 million, or $1.39 per share, in the fourth quarter, compared with a loss of $296 million, or $1.67 per share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, profit from continuing operations was $1.65 per share. Analysts on average had expected earnings of $1.14 per share on revenue of $1.1 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 30 percent to $1.2 billion.
Shares of Noble Energy, which has a market value of about $20 billion, closed at $113.57 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Garima Goel; Editing by Sreejiraj Eluvangal and Don Sebastian)