Marathon Oil, APA profits beat as crude prices recover from pandemic lows

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A Marathon Oil well site is seen as oil and gas activity dips in the Eagle Ford Shale oilfield in Texas, U.S., because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the drop in demand for oil globally. May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Jennifer Hiller/

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May 5 (Reuters) - U.S. oil and gas producers Marathon Oil Corp (MRO.N) and APA Corp (APA.O) beat Wall Street estimates for first-quarter profits on Wednesday, as COVID-19 vaccine rollouts and easing travel restrictions powered a rebound in oil prices.

Crude prices are up at least a third this year, after the pandemic hammered fuel demand at the start of 2020. Marathon and peers have also benefited from cost and production cuts last year.

Marathon said first-quarter U.S. average realized price for crude rose to $55.38 per barrel from $39.71 per barrel in the last three months of 2020. Total production fell to 345,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) from 352,000 boepd in the fourth quarter.

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The company last week became the latest oil producer to raise its quarterly dividend, increasing it to 4 cents per share from 3 cents per share while also redeeming $500 million in debt.

Meanwhile, APA said its total average oil price rose to $59.62 per barrel, a nearly 38% jump from the prior quarter. The company expects second-quarter total adjusted production to come at 340,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd).

Its first-quarter reported production fell to 382,000 boepd from 411,000 boepd, sequentially.

The company warned last month its international output was hit because of production sharing contracts associated with higher realized oil prices in Egypt and extended maintenance downtime in the North Sea.

Marathon said first-quarter adjusted income stood at $166 million, or 21 cents per share, compared with a loss of $98 million, or 12 cents per share, in the fourth.

This beat the average analyst estimate of 11 cents profit per share, according to Refinitiv IBES.

APA posted an adjusted profit of 91 cents per share, topping estimate of 66 cents.

Smaller rivals Whiting Petroleum (WLL.N) and Callon Petroleum (CPE.N) both posted smaller losses, sequentially.

(This story corrects typo in headline.)

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Reporting by Arunima Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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