Anadarko Petroleum Corp. is taking another big bet on the U.S. onshore and deepwater during 2018, earmarking 85% of its planned $4.2-4.6 billion capital investments to domestic programs.

As it has done for the past two years, the super independent’s “Three Ds” would receive most of the capital expenditures (capex): the Permian Basin’s Delaware sub-basin, Colorado’s Denver-Julesburg (DJ) Basin and the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM).

The program is forecast to deliver higher production worldwide to 671-699 million boe/d. Oil volumes are projected at 385-405 million b/d, 11-17% growth, or 14% from the midpoint.

"Our 2018 investment plan will again be driven by capital efficiency and financial discipline," said CEO Al Walker. "These key tenets have served us well for the last decade, as growth within cash flow is fundamental to delivering capital-efficient returns.”

Anadarko’s “repositioned asset footprint is built to succeed in a market where oil prices exhibit volatility in a $45-60 environment, with gas averaging $3/Mcf,” he said. “We expect next year's capital expenditures to be inside of discretionary cash flow at $50 and $3, while generating free cash flow of more than $700 million at the current strip.”

About half of the total budget, $2.1 billion, would be directed to the U.S. onshore. In West Texas alone, $900 million has been allocated to upstream activity, while another $500 million would be directed to Delaware midstream operations.

Most of its Wolfcamp-A property in the Delaware already is delineated and is estimated to hold at least 3 billion boe net, management noted. The company also now owns and operates 70% of its acreage in West Texas, primarily in Reeves and Loving counties. Additionally, construction is progressing on three oil treating facilities in the Permian to support tankless battery design field-wide.

During 2018,  Anadarko now is planning to run on average seven operated rigs and six completion crews.

“This comprehensive buildout plan and phased development approach in the basin is expected to deliver incremental oil sales volume during the second half of 2018, with total oil sales volume expected to increase more than 50% relative to 2017,” management said. 

In northeastern Colorado’s DJ, where the company is the leading producer with more than 2 billion boe net, upstream capex is set at $950 million. Anadarko plans to run on average five operated rigs and three completion crews. Oil sales volumes year/year are forecast to rise by about 30%.

Anadarko also is budgeting $1.1 billion for the GOM deepwater in 2018, most of which would be directed to developing operated offshore infrastructure at Lucius, Horn Mountain, Marlin, Holstein and Marco Polo. Plans next year are to operate two floating drillships and spud five development wells.

About $200 million also has been set for global exploration efforts in 2018, mostly directed to the  GOM with additional spending in the U.S. onshore.

Overseas spending, mostly in Algeria and Ghana, is budgeted at $150 million, while another $150 million would be invested to advance the Mozambique liquefied natural gas export project.

Anadarko also plans in 2018 to execute the remaining $1.5 billion of its $2.5 billion share repurchase program, which it launched in September.

In addition, management compensation programs have been revamped “to increase the profile for the role of capital efficiency and financial discipline and refine the focus on our safety performance," Walker said. "Performance objectives will now include cash return on invested capital, volume growth per debt-adjusted share and reserve additions per debt-adjusted share.”

Moving to debt-adjusted performance metrics, he said, would align Anadarko’s compensation programs “to the capital-allocation philosophy we have employed over the last 10 years."