Because some of its oil and natural gas sales were delayed in overseas operations, Murphy Oil Corp. said Monday that its first quarter net income will be lower, averaging between 90 cents and $1.10 per share.

Murphy completed no gas sales from its Malaysian operations in March, but sales scheduled last month will be recorded in the second quarter, according to a spokeswoman. Mindy West said it was “just a timing difference.”

The El Dorado, AR-based producer said production in the quarter will be slightly higher, averaging 136,500 boe/d. Sales volumes for the quarter will average 136,000 boe/d, lower than expected because of lower sales volumes in Malaysia, the company said in a statement.

Dry hole charges for the quarter will range between $48-63 million, with total worldwide exploration expense averaging between $57-72 million. A $15 million after tax gain on sale of onshore U.S. properties will be included in revenue in the first quarter; however, the gain was also reflected in previous guidance, Murphy said.

Earlier this month, Murphy announced the sale of most of its Western Canadian assets to Pengrowth Corp. for C$550 million (see Daily GPI, April 12). The company said last year it would sell most of its conventional oil and gas properties in Western Canada to free up cash for projects in its growth areas.

Murphy’s principal exploration and production activities now are conducted in the United States, Ecuador, Malaysia and offshore eastern Canada, the North Sea and the Atlantic Margin. Its crude oil and natural gas liquids production in 2002 was in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ecuador, and its natural gas was produced and sold in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

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