Hess Corp. is once again directing the lion’s share, more than 80%, of its planned $3 billion capital expenditure (capex) budget for 2020 to high-return investments in the Bakken Shale and offshore Guyana.
About 75% of its $2.9 million capex budget in 2019 went to Guyana and the Bakken, which is considered by senior executives to be one of the New York-based producer’s “growth engines.” Management is designating $1.375 billion to fund a six-rig program in the play that is expected to result in net production growing to around 200,000 boe/d by the end of 2020.
The company expects to drill about 170 wells and bring online around 175 new wells in 2020. Funds are also included for investment in non-operated wells.
Net production is forecast to average between 330,000 and 335,000 boe/d in 2020, excluding Libya, according to Hess. Bakken net production is forecast to average approximately 180,000 boe/d in 2020.
The company reported that Bakken production during the third quarter 2019 averaged 163,000 boe/d, a 38% increase year/year. It expected to bring online 155 new wells in the play by the end of the year.
The producer also has earmarked $860 million for offshore Guyana, including $100 million associated with the Liza Phase 1 development. Subsidiary Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. has a 30% stake in a partnership with ExxonMobil Corp. in the Stabroek Block.
“We continue to successfully execute our long-term strategy, with the majority of our capital budget directed to Guyana and the Bakken -- two of the highest return investment opportunities in our industry that will become significant, long-term cash generators for our company,” CEO John Hess said.
Hess is dishing out $400 million this year for the second phase of Liza development, where first production is expected by mid-2022, as well as $360 million to progress development plans for the Payara Field, where production could come as early as 2023. Front-end engineering and design work for future developments also is included in the company’s plans.
The company plans to spend $450 million to drill exploration and appraisal wells on the Stabroek and Kaieteur Blocks offshore Guyana and two exploration wells in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). Funds are also included for seismic acquisition and processing in Guyana, Suriname and the deepwater GOM, and for license acquisitions.
Also in the deepwater GOM, Hess is allocating $135 million for production operations, including development of the Esox-1 tieback. Another $170 million is being set aside for production activities at North Malay Basin and the Malaysia/Thailand Joint Development Area in the Gulf of Thailand.
“We are well positioned to deliver industry-leading cash flow growth while also achieving significant reductions in our unit costs, which will drive margin expansion and lower our breakeven oil price to below $40/bbl Brent by 2025.”
Hess is scheduled to discuss 4Q2019 earnings on Wednesday.