Refining Business Hurts Hess Q4 Profits

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Hess said its fourth-quarter tumbled due to higher costs, investment write-downs and an unprofitable quarter for its refining business. New York-based Hess said it earned $58 million, or 18 cents per share, compared with $358 million, or $1.10 per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose to $8.69 billion from $8.56 billion.

Analysts were expecting a profit of $1.16 a share on revenue of $7.4 billion. After earning $17 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, the Hess refining unit lost $261 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. Exploration and production earnings fell slightly to $420 million in the period, from $494 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to the Associated Press.

Hess also said it is hoping to double its Bakken Shale production this year to an average of 40,000 barrels per day. The company plans to spend $1.8 billion, or a third of its 2011 budget, in the region. Hess was producing 20,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the Bakken Shale at the end of 2010.

Overall 2010 production for Hess (HES) was 418,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.