Business

Halliburton reports record revenue amid natural gas-to-oil shift

Petroleum IndustryNatural GasEnergy ResourcesEnvironmental IssuesNatural ResourcesOil and Chemical SpillsHalliburton Company

Halliburton Co., one of the world’s largest oil services businesses, pulled in record revenue in North America as the energy industry shied from natural gas production and boosted oil field exploration instead.

The Houston firm’s revenue in North America reached $4.2 billion, helping to push overall first quarter revenue up 30% to $6.9 billion, the company said Wednesday. Halliburton’s profit boomed 22.7% to $627 million, or 69 cents per share, up from $511 million, or 56 cents per share, during the same quarter in 2011.

Halliburton, which aids companies in constructing oil and gas wells, pointed to “a significant rig-shift that is taking place in the U.S. between natural gas and oil” which has oil field rigs up 12% to a 25-year high but natural gas rigs down 17%.

Natural gas production for Halliburton is sliding due to oversupply and declining prices, which was “dramatic and disruptive to operations,” said Chief Executive David J. Lesar in a conference call with analysts. Spot natural gas prices are down about 50% from the same period last year, Lesar said.

With crude prices rising in the meantime, oil firms increasingly are on the lookout for more U.S. fields to drill.

The Energy Department said Wednesday that the nation’s supply of crude oil rose 1.1% last week – a 3.9 million barrel boost to 369 million barrels. Gasoline supply fell 1.7%, or 3.7 million barrels, to 214 million barrels as demand dropped compared to a year earlier.

Halliburton also reported a $300-million charge for “probable losses” related to the 2010 explosion at the Macondo well on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 workers in the Gulf of Mexico and resulted in the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

On Wednesday, approaching the two-year anniversary of the spill, the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustee Council said that eight restoration projects costing roughly $60 million soon will begin along the Gulf Coast. The efforts will aid in marsh creation, coastal dune habitat improvements, artificial reef creation, boat ramp construction and more.

Also Wednesday, oil giant BP and attorneys representing thousands of people claiming economic damages from the spill asked a federal judge to give preliminary approval to a proposed, $7.8-billion class-action settlement.

Halliburton is the world’s second-largest company in its field behind multinational rival Schlumberger Ltd. but leads U.S. competitors in hydraulic fracturing – a pumping process used to release oil and gas from underground shale formations.

The company's stock was trading up 4.2%, or $1.38, to $34.04 in midday trading in New York.

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