ConocoPhillips loss widens as oil prices stay low

Low oil prices continue to drag down earnings for ConocoPhillips, the world’s largest independent oil exploration and production company.

The Houston company reported Thursday that its second quarter losses increased six times from the same period a year ago, widening from $179 million to $1.1 billion, or 86 cents per share.

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ConocoPhillips cut operating expenses by 19 percent, to $1.8 billion in the second quarter this year from $2.2 billion over the same period last year. And it pumped less oil — about 1.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, a drop of about 49,000 barrels, or 3 percent.

Still, the company noted it had surpassed expected production.

READ MORE: ConocoPhillips loss widens as oil prices stay low

“The price environment remains challenging, but our business is running well and we continue to beat our production, capital expenditures and operating cost targets,” chief executive Ryan Lance said in a statement.

The results brought ConocoPhillips’ six-month losses to $2.5 billion or $2 per share; Last year, over the same period, the company had earned $93 million, or 7 cents per share.

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The company said it made just $25 per barrel of oil in the first six months of 2016, in comparison to almost $38 per barrel over the same period last year.

Executives are expecting production to increase in 2016, and have adjusted expectations from 1.5 million barrels per day of oil equivalent to almost 1.6 million.

Lance said the company expects oil prices to remain low and volatile. In that climate, he said, ConocoPhillips is focusing on reducing costs, trimming debt to below $25 billion and returning extra cash to shareholders.

“We’ve been saying we need to be prepared for lower prices and volatility, and I think we’re seeing that in spades now,” he said during the company’s earnings call on Thursday.

He said ConocoPhillips will be “very, very cautious through 2016.”

“It’s going to be well into 2017 before we see real changes in price,” he said.