EOG Resources Inc. increased oil and natural gas production during the second quarter. Still, the Houston-based independent’s executives, wary of the pandemic’s potential, said they had no immediate plans to further ramp up output.

“We’re not going to grow until the market clearly needs the barrels,” President Ezra Yacob told analysts during a call Thursday to discuss 2Q2021 results. “We’re committed to staying disciplined. Currently, we want to see demand return to pre-Covid levels.”  

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) forecasted that global demand this year would increase by 6.0 million b/d to average 96.6 million b/d. Most of that growth is expected in the second half of the year. The cartel projected demand next year would increase by another 3.3 million b/d to average 99.9 million b/d, reaching pre-pandemic levels.

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OPEC and its allies, aka OPEC-plus, are in the midst of an ongoing effort to gradually increase production to meet expected demand. The group of oil producers plans to unwind all of the cuts made amid the pandemic in 2020, when it slashed output by 9.7 million b/d.

Big U.S. producers, however, are generally keeping output steady. Domestic oil production averaged 11.2 million b/d last week, flat with the prior week, and far lower than the early 2020 peak of 13.1 million b/d reached before the pandemic.

Oil prices have rebounded this year, but many U.S. producers are in wait-and-see mode as variants of the coronavirus cause new outbreaks and threaten the global demand recovery. Count EOG Resources in that camp, executives said.

“I think the U.S. will remain disciplined,” CEO William Thomas said on the earnings call.

EOG said second quarter oil and condensate production averaged 448,600 boe/d, above the midpoint of guidance of 443,000 boe/d. That was still well below 483,300 boe/d in 1Q2020, prior to widespread virus outbreaks.

Natural gas liquids (NGL) production of 138,500 b/d was above guidance of 132,000 b/d but below the 161,300 b/d posted in 1Q2021. Natural gas production, at 1.44 Bcf/d, eclipsed guidance and the pre-pandemic level in the first quarter of 2020, both of which were 1.38 Bcf/d.

EOG said it was too soon to forecast sustained higher levels in the second half of the year or to consider increases in 2022.

EOG reported 2Q2021 net income of $907 million ($1.55/share). That compared with a year earlier loss of $910 million (minus $1.57). Total revenue increased to $4.1 billion from $1.1 billion.