(New throughout, adds details on earnings comparison, updates stock price)
HOUSTON, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Whiting Petroleum Corp, the largest oil producer in North Dakota's Bakken shale formation, posted a quarterly loss on Wednesday that was smaller than analysts had expected, due in part to higher crude prices .
The results came the day after Whiting said long-time Chief Executive James Volker would retire and be replaced by Brad Holly, a former Anadarko Petroleum Corp executive.
Whiting carries a debt load that eclipses its market value, and has struggled in recent years to capitalize on its position as a Bakken leader.
Analysts generally cheered Volker's replacement with Holly, who helped lead Anadarko's operations in the western United States, saying they were eager for updates on his plan for the company's operations.
Whiting posted a third-quarter net loss of $286.4 million, or 79 cents per share, compared with $693.1 million, or $2.47 per share, in the year-ago period.
Excluding one-time items, including taxes and hedging gains, Whiting lost 14 cents per share. By that measure, analysts expected a loss of 20 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Production dipped 5 percent to 114,350 barrels per day, largely due to the temporary shutdown of a contractor's natural gas processing plant. North Dakota's oil regulator limits natural gas flaring at each well; producers must throttle back or suspend production at wells if they cannot meet the targets.
The average sales price for Whiting's crude oil rose 12 percent during the quarter to $41.03 per barrel.
Whiting said it still expects to spend $950 million this year, maintaining previous guidance. For 2018, the company has hedged about half of its oil production so far.
Shares of Denver-based Whiting rose 0.6 percent to $4.87 in after-hours trading. The stock is down nearly 60 percent so far this year.
The company plans to hold a conference call with analysts on Thursday morning to discuss the quarterly results. (Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; editing by Susan Thomas and David Gregorio)