Marathon Oil: Field Maintenance to Slow Libya Oil Output Ramp-Up

 Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO) said Wednesday production from its operations in Libya is expected to ramp-up slowly this year as oil-field maintenance remains challenging after the political unrest.

"As far as Libya goes, we have purposely removed that from our (2012 production) guidance because I think you're going to see some variability out there," David Roberts, Marathon Oil's executive vice president and chief operating officer, told analysts on a conference call. "Our ability to perform maintenance as was the norm before the difficulties in North Africa could be a challenge as the years go on."

Houston-based Marathon Oil said its current net production in Libya is between 25,000 and 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. The company is partner at Waha Oil Co., Libya's largest operation with foreign energy companies. Pre-war production at Waha Oil, whose partners also include ConocoPhillips (COP) and Hess Corp. (HES), was 350,000 barrels a day.

Separately, the company said it expects to continue upgrading its portfolio through selective acquisitions in core areas such as Texas's Eagle Ford Shale and North Dakota's Bakken Shale. Marathon also plans to divest non-strategic assets, but it said it has dropped its previously announced efforts to find a partner for its U.S. Gulf of Mexico assets. Interest from possible buyers wasn't as high as the company has expected, Marathon said.

In the exploration side, the company said it is still evaluating a shale-gas well it drilled in Poland and that it will continue plans to drill up to seven wells this year.

Marathon Oil reported a profit of $549 million, or 78 cents a share, down from $706 million, or 99 cents, a year earlier. Adjusted earnings from continuing operations rose to 78 cents from 70 cents a year earlier, when the company included profits from its downstream business. Adjusted earnings missed analysts' expectations of 82 cents on lower-than-expected results from its oil sands mining and liquefied-natural-gas segments, according to Credit Suisse.

Shares were up 1.4% at $31.70 in Wednesday trading.

(Source: Fox Business)

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