(New throughout, adds details, comment, updates share price; U.S. dollars unless noted)
CALGARY, Alberta, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Talisman Energy Inc , the Canadian oil producer whose shares have fallen more than half in the past year, said on Tuesday it expects to meet its goal of selling $2 billion in assets by mid-2015 despite tumbling oil prices.
The company, which reported a bigger-than-expected third-quarter profit on Tuesday, said buyers remained interested even as oil prices drop to three-year lows.
Chief Executive Hal Kvisle said Talisman expects to make one or two sale announcement by year end and the largest of those potential deals, the sale of some of its fee-based pipeline and processing assets in the Marcellus shale gas field in the U.S. northeast, is not affected by low oil prices.
“It’s more dependent on low interest rates than high commodity prices,” Kvisle said in an interview. “It’s the low interest-rate environment that makes it attractive.”
Talisman, which is reorganizing operations and selling assets to boost its share price, also trimmed its capital budget for the year to about $3 billion from $3.2 billion.
Weak oil and gas prices have been weighing on the company, dragging down cash flow, a key indicator of its ability to fund new projects and drilling.
Talisman’s cash flow fell 11.5 percent to $507 million, or 49 cents per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, and the company warned of lower cash flow in the fourth quarter as well.
Global crude prices have slipped by about 25 percent since touching a high of $115 in June, hurt by excess supply, including from North American shale fields, and weak demand from China and Europe. Natural gas prices have also been depressed due to a supply glut in North America.
The impact of weak prices and a 5 percent fall in Talisman’s third-quarter production was offset by a 49 percent fall in the company’s expenses and gains on commodity derivatives.
Talisman earned $425 million, or 38 cents per share, in the quarter, compared with a loss of $54 million, or 8 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding the gain on commodity derivatives and other items, profit was 5 cents per share, above analysts’ average estimate of 2 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Total revenue and other income fell nearly 8.7 percent to $1.14 billion, missing the average analyst estimate of $1.4 billion.
Production averaged 353,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), down from 371,000 boepd a year earlier.
Despite the bigger-than-expected profit, Talisman’s shares slid along with those of other Canadian oil producers on Tuesday, dropping 12 percent to C$6.10, the lowest since 2002. (Reporting by Scott Haggett in Calgary and Manya Venkatesh in Bangalore)