Oil and natural gas producer Hess Corp posted a lower-than-expected profit on Wednesday, as a steep fall in global crude prices eroded results.
The weak results from Hess, one of the first major U.S. oil companies to report quarterly earnings, could portend a wave of negative earnings reports across the industry, especially with oil prices down more than 60 percent since last June.
Chevron Corp and Exxon Mobil Corp are set to report within the week.
While production at many Hess wells rose, the jump was largely attributed to technological advancements and being more economical, not new drilling. Hess said the company will drill 20 percent more wells this year, per rig, than it did in 2014.
For 2015, Hess expects to produce 350,000 to 360,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), a 13 percent increase from 2014.
In North Dakota's Bakken shale, which accounts for about 28 percent of total output, production of 95,000 to 105,000 boepd is forecast for this year, far higher than the 83,000 boepd rate for last year - and despite Hess plans to cut 2015 capital spending by 16 percent.
"We are confident in our ability to manage the current pricing environment and remain very optimistic about the company's long-term growth potential," Chief Executive John Hess said, adding he expects crude oil prices to rebound in 2016.
Hess, which also has operations in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Denmark and Norway, said oil and gas production jumped 18 percent to 362,000 boepd in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31.
Hess said its average worldwide crude oil selling price, including the effect of hedging, fell 24 percent to $74.97 per barrel in the quarter.
Amidst that drop, Hess said it is having "very active discussions with our supplies" about reducing costs. Halliburton Co is one of the company's largest oilfield service providers.
Net loss attributable to Hess was $8 million, or 3 cents per share, compared with net income of $1.93 billion, or $5.76 per share, a year earlier.
Adjusted profit was 18 cents per share, below the average analyst estimate of 20 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters
Hess shares, down about 5 percent in Wednesday afternoon trading, have lost 28 percent of their value in the past six months.
U.S. crude oil futures, meanwhile, fell 3 percent to $44.87 per barrel on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Swetha Gopinath in Bengaluru and Ernest Scheyder in Williston, North Dakota; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Grant McCool)