After seeing Talisman Energy's latest quarterly earnings, it's clear why the company keeps pursuing asset sales, which now total $2.5-billion for the year.
Although total production this past quarter was up 4 per cent to 435,000 barrels of energy a day, net earnings fell to $196-million, down from almost $700-million from the same quarter in 2011.
The problem: lower commodity prices and higher expenses – a disastrous combination. The average netback last quarter fell to $26.20 per barrel of energy, one-third lower than this time last year.
Seeing this transition, Talisman kicked into high gear. During the first quarter the company announced $1-billion in asset sales, including a $500-million stake in non-producing coal properties in northeast British Columbia. Then last week the firm announced the sale of a 49 per cent equity stake in its U.K. North Sea assets to Sinopec for $1.5-billion – which didn't receive as much attention as it should have because it was announced the same day as CNOOC's bid for Nexen.
Talisman's already announced some plans for its new cash windfall. $500-million of the money received from the Sinopec deal will go toward repurchasing shares. The company's stock is off about 29 per cent in the past year, and until very recently it had lost much more until it suddenly rebounded.
In such a nasty operating environment for natural gas, Talisman, like many others, is emphasizing its other energy sources. After it pulled out of Sasol Canada's gas-to-liquids project in late June, chief executive officer John Manzoni said his company's "immediate focus is to accelerate investment in near-term liquids opportunities, with the goal of increasing liquids and oil-linked gas production to 300,000 barrels a day by 2015."