Continental Resources Inc. rode record oil production to first-quarter earnings of $141 million, or 76 cents a share, the company reported Wednesday.
Excluding items that are not typically part of analysts' estimates, Continental's net income rose to $215 million, or $1.17 a share. The company's adjusted net income was $137.9 million, or 76 cents a share, in the same period of last year.
The Oklahoma City-based oil company said it produced about 121,500 barrels of oil equivalent a day in the quarter that ended March 31. That is a 14 percent increase over the previous quarter.
Continental also doubled production to about 14,200 barrels a day in its newest oil play, the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province (SCOOP).
“We are off to an excellent start in 2013 in executing our strategy of profitably growing our world-class position in the Bakken, testing the lower benches and downspacing capability, and also delineating our exciting new play, SCOOP,” CEO Harold G. Hamm said. “Our focus on driving well costs lower has been successful due to enhanced utilization of pad drilling, improved cycle times and supply chain efforts.
“We intend to maintain our capital spending discipline this year, as evident in our first quarter results.”
Continental's first-quarter production was about 71 percent oil, with its natural gas sold before processing. The company estimates its liquids production would grow to about 80 percent if it had sold its natural gas liquids after processing.
Continental managed to trim its production expense to $5.70 a barrel, although winter weather kept the company from cutting costs as much as it had hoped.
“Our production growth remained strong despite seasonal challenges in the Bakken,” Continental President Rick Bott said. “Our realizations remain on track, driving an impressive 74 percent cash margin, which benefited from 80 percent of our operated Bakken production being transported by rail as we continue to access markets on all U.S. coasts.
“We continue to monitor oil differentials and transportation costs to ensure we realize the most attractive pricing for our premium Bakken oil.”