At least in terms of its books, ConocoPhillips pulled out of the pandemic in a big way last year.
The Houston-based producer on Thursday posted full-year 2021 earnings of nearly $8.1 billion companywide and approximately $1.4 billion in Alaska.
ConocoPhillips netted $2.6 billion in the fourth quarter overall and $451 million from its work on the North Slope. Its tax and royalty bill from the state is estimated at $420 million for the fourth quarter and approximately $1.1 billion for all of 2021, according to a company statement.
ConocoPhillips lost $2.7 billion in 2020, of which $719 million in losses was attributable to Alaska. However, a faster rebound in global oil demand than many analysts predicted following the sudden collapse in 2020 has helped put some producers on equal or better financial footing than they had pre-pandemic, and ConocoPhillips is one of them.
The company generated $48.3 billion in total revenue last year, more than double 2020 and about a third more than the $36 billion generated in 2019 when it netted almost $7.2 billion.
It generated $10.4 billion in free cash flow and ended 2021 with approximately $5.4 billion in cash.
ConocoPhillips reported an average realized oil price of $67.64 per barrel for the year and $76.76 for the fourth quarter.
Prices for Alaska North Slope crude have continued to increase in the new year, eclipsing $90 per barrel in recent days.
The $2.6 billion quarter and $8.1 billion year translated to earnings per share of $1.99 and $6.09, respectively. ConocoPhillips stock traded at nearly $90 per share near the end of Thursday trading, down nearly 3% from an open of $92.78 per share.
The strong earnings are a result of the “talent and dedication of our global workforce,” CEO Ryan Lance said during an investor call.
The current energy market environment is evidence of how rocky the global move away from fossil fuels could be, according to Lance.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that the energy transition isn’t going to happen with the flip of a switch,” he said, also noting that ConocoPhillips increased its mid-term emissions reduction targets to 40-50% by 2030 and has a net zero emissions goal for its operations by 2050.
The company is also on track to eliminate routine gas flaring by 2025, Lance said. Non-emergency flaring is illegal in Alaska.
Operationally, ConocoPhillips achieved first oil production in December from its Greater Mooses Tooth-2 drill site in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. ConocoPhillips Alaska President Erec Isaacson said in a statement from the company that GMT-2 came in about 10% under the estimated $1.4 billion capital cost and initial production rates have been in line with expectations. Oil production from GMT-2 is expected to peak at around 30,000 barrels per day.
ConocoPhillips produced an average of 178,000 barrels per day from its North Slope fields last year.
Improving market conditions and voters’ rejection of the proposed oil tax increase in Ballot Measure 1 in 2020 led ConocoPhillips to put nearly $1 billion in capital toward North Slope projects last year after shutting down its drilling operations for much of 2020, according to Isaacson.
“Each dollar we earn from projects like GMT-2 allows us to continue our investment in Alaska’s future and keeps Alaskans employed,” Isaacson said. “I’m proud of the work we do on the North Slope and proud of our contributions to Alaska’s economy.”
ConocoPhillips leaders have said they again have a roughly $1 billion capital plan for the North Slope this year, from a global capital budget of roughly $7.2 billion.
Elwood Brehmer can be reached at email@example.com.