Noble’s capex budget to total $4.8 billion for 2014

Noble Energy Inc. reported its capital expenditures for 2014 will reach $4.8 billion, with 70% allocated to the US onshore and the remainder to go to international deepwater activities.

The company’s total sales volumes for 2014 from continuing operations are expected to average 302,000-322,000 boe/d, the midpoint of which represents an 18% rise over the target for 2013—after adjusting for assets divested and exchanged this year.

Noble in October swapped acreage with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. in the greater Wattenberg area of northern Colorado, with each party contributing 50,000 net acres. At the time, the company said it expected its DJ basin volumes to increase by at least 20% in 2014 (OGJ online, Oct. 21, 2013).

Total volume will consist of 46% liquids, 29% US natural gas, and 25% international gas.

Charles D. Davidson, Noble’s chairman and chief executive officer, said, “We continue to accelerate development in the DJ basin, which will receive the greatest portion of our capital program, as well as the drilling program in the wet gas area of the Marcellus shale.”

US onshore

Noble plans to invest $3.2 billion in 2014 US onshore development.

An acceleration of horizontal drilling and system development in northeastern Colorado’s DJ basin will result in the drilling of 320 operated horizontal wells, including more than 55 extended reach laterals.

The company is implementing integrated development plans in the Ranch and East Pony areas, which are expected to bring long-term efficiencies to basin operations.

Accelerated development in the Marcellus includes 170 joint venture wells encompassing almost 100 operated horizontal wells, with planned average lateral lengths of more than 7,000 ft in the liquids-rich areas of the play.

Noble also plans further exploration activity in northeastern Nevada’s Wilson oil prospect.

Sales volumes for US onshore are projected to increase 28% in the DJ basin—after adjusting for the acreage exchange—and 90% in the Marcellus driven by 2013 growth in both horizontal programs.

Global deepwater

Noble plans to allocate $1.5 billion to 2014 global deepwater programs.

In the eastern Mediterranean, progress on the onshore compression terminal in Israel will continue, as well as development at the recently sanctioned Tamar Southwest discovery.

Earlier this month the company reported the Tamar gas discovery, marking its eighth consecutive discovery in the Levant basin (OGJ Online, Dec. 4, 2013).

Noble expects to invest in the development of the sanctioned Big Bend and Gunflint projects and the 2013 Dantzler discovery in deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Dantzler, 20% working interest of which was farmed out by Noble to W&T Offshore in September (OGJ Online, Sept. 30, 2013), contains discovered gross resources estimated at 55-95 million boe (OGJ Online, Dec. 4, 2013).

In September, the company made a gas discovery with its Troubadour prospect, drilling in the Big Bend-Troubadour Rio Grande area (OGJ Online, Sept. 11, 2013).

An exploration well is anticipated in Cameroon in West Africa, and there are continued plans for a Diega project sanction and development.

Capital has also been allocated to offshore international new ventures including seismic in Sierra Leone and the Falkland Islands.

A modest increase from 2013 is expected from the company’s global deepwater sales volumes, with Israel accounting for a 15% increase with a full year of operations at Tamar. Recent production levels in West Africa are expected to hold steady as as Alen offsets other declines.

Deepwater Gulf of Mexico is expected to experience natural declines in maturing properties.

Fourth-quarter update

Noble increased its fourth-quarter sales volumes from continuing operations to 286,000-288,000 boe/d, reflecting a 5,000-boe/d rise from the prior estimate caused by better-than-expected sales in the US Onshore, West Africa, and Israel.

The company also lowered its anticipated fourth-quarter 2013 exploration expense to $200-225 million, citing successful exploration drilling in deepwater gulf and eastern Mediterranean.

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