(Adds details on production, background, compares with estimates)
Feb 26 (Reuters) - Apache Corp reported a surprise adjusted profit on Wednesday, as the oil and gas producer benefited from higher output at its shale assets in the Permian basin that helped counter lower natural gas prices.
Production from the Permian, the largest U.S. oil field and the center of the country's shale industry, rose 13% to 288,043 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d), while total production rose marginally to 487,202 boe/d.
The Permian and Bakken regions have been the biggest drivers of the shale boom that has helped make the United States the biggest oil producer in the world.
Apache said it plans 2020 capital expenditure between $1.6 billion and $1.9 billion, the mid point of which is 26% lower than its 2019 capex, as investors push for more returns against the backdrop of falling prices.
The company, however, took a $2.7 billion charge related to its assets, including Alpine High and some assets of its pipeline business Altus Midstream.
The company has reduced drilling activity at the Alpine High field in a remote corner of the Permian basin and has also started reorganizing operations to save costs.
However, the Permian asset has required enormous investment in pipeline infrastructure and delivers mostly natural gas at a time when prices are at their lowest in more than two decades.
On an adjusted basis, the company earned 8 cents per share, compared to analysts' estimates of a loss of 6 cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
In the year-earlier quarter, the company took impairment charges related to its assets in the North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Anadarko Basin and Egypt.
The Houston-based company's net loss attributable to common stock widened to $3 billion, or $7.89 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $381 million, or $1 per share, a year earlier. (bit.ly/32tbIJv) (Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)