Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE: MRO) President and CEO Lee M. Tillman, at the 2014 Howard Weil conference in New Orleans, provided the status of three key priorities for the company's 2014 plans, which were announced at its December 2013 Analyst Day meeting.
The company has accelerated rig activity in the Eagle Ford, Bakken and Oklahoma Woodford shale plays, ramping up to a 28-rig program in January. It has also opened a data room for marketing of North Sea businesses, with bids due in the second quarter. Additionally, Marathon has completed the second phase of its $1 billion share repurchase associated with the close of its Angola Block 31 divestment, and has initiated an additional $500 million share repurchase.
"We ramped up drilling and completion activity levels across all three of our North American resource plays, achieving our committed 28-rig program in January,” Tillman said. “We continue to have high confidence in our ability to deliver on our North America long-term production growth targets underpinned by strong resource growth through downspacing and well optimization. In addition, we are progressing the evaluation and appraisal of co-development opportunities with the Eagle Ford's Austin Chalk and the Bakken's deeper Three Forks benches. In the Oklahoma resource basins, we are actively developing our South Central Oklahoma Oil Province (SCOOP) acreage while assessing the Southern Mississippi Trend and Granite Wash horizons – all of which could further expand our current resource estimates.
"The marketing of our UK and Norway North Sea businesses is a continuation of our portfolio optimization to simplify and concentrate our portfolio toward higher margin and higher growth opportunities. This effort is progressing on plan with the data room open and bids expected in the second quarter.”
Tillman also commented that Marathon Oil’s share repurchase program underscores the company's commitment to capital discipline and creating long-term value for its shareholders. “Since September 2013, the company has completed a two-phased repurchase of $1 billion of the company's common stock representing 29 million shares,” he said. “Most recently, the second phase was completed following the February closing of the Angola Block 31 transaction. Now Marathon Oil is initiating an additional $500 million share repurchase, after which we will have $1.5 billion remaining on the board authorized share repurchase program."