August 3, 2018 / 11:19 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 3-Noble Energy gives in to Permian and transport challenges, shares fall

(Adds details from conference call, analyst quotes, shares)

By Akshara P and Liz Hampton

Aug 3 (Reuters) - Noble Energy Inc said on Friday it would shift some investments outside of the Permian Basin and cut back on planned well completions as the company adjusts to ongoing transportation bottlenecks plaguing U.S. oil companies.

Shares of the Houston-based oil and gas producer, which posted lower-than-expected profit, fell 8 percent to $32.95 in morning trade.

During the quarter, a record output from the Permian Basin created a supply log-jam in the shale-rich basin, keeping U.S. oil prices below international grades.

It has also created a supply log-jam, creating bottlenecks on pipelines that transport crude out of the Permian Basin to the Gulf Coast and Cushing, Oklahoma.

"As far as allocating more back to the Permian, it's going to be tied to export capacity coming on. That's why we're shifting out," David Stover, chief executive officer of Noble, told analysts during the company's second quarter earnings call.

The company, which is going to reallocate some resources to the DJ Basin, expects full-year sales volume to be near lower end of its forecast, while raising its capital expenditure budget slightly, blaming higher costs of drilling.

The company said, in February, it expected volumes to grow to about 525,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) in 2020.

"Noble needs to provide investors with assurance that its three-year framework is achievable with its new allocation of activity," analyst Charles Robertson of Cowen & Co said.

Total sales volumes at the end of 2017 was 381,000 boe/d. The producer now expects full-year 2018 total sales volume to be near the lower end of its forecast of 350,000-360,000 boe/d.

Apart from the Permian Basin, which is at the center of the shale revolution in the United States, Noble also operates in the Eagle Ford and DJ basins.

Noble's total sales volumes in the reported quarter fell 15.2 percent to 346,000 boe/d.

Excluding one-time items, Noble posted a profit of 17 cents per share, while analysts had, on average, expected 22 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The Houston-based company's total revenue rose to $1.23 billion from $1.06 billion. (Reporting by John Benny and Akshara P in Bengaluru and Liz Hampton in Houston; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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