Oil giant reports 2018 profit, compared to big 2017 loss, and successful Alaska development

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - An oil giant and major player in the Alaska energy sector reported Thursday that their 2018 second quarter portfolio made over a billion dollars in profit. This serves as a stark contrast to their multi-billion dollar loss at this same time last year, and Alaska has something to do with it.

In a release, ConocoPhillips said that for Q2 2018, the company reported earnings of $1.6 billion, compared to their Q2 2017 loss of $3.4 billion. The company cited several reasons for the shift, including higher oil prices and lowering the debt level of the company, thereby helping their bottom line.

The company has been trying for the past year to get their debt threshold down, as announced in previous conference calls relaying quarterly earnings.

In the statement Thursday, ConocoPhillips said the debt level they had been attempting to reach had been met earlier than they thought, with $2.1 billion of balance sheet debt paid down "18 months ahead of plan."

That basically frees the company up to react more swiftly to changing crude oil prices, as well as incur less losses from interest costs on the debt.

In addition to oil prices on the rise and debt on the decline, the company also reference Alaska assets which played a big part in previous quarterly announcements. Among them, was specifically six new wells drilled in Alaska's North Slope announced earlier this year.

"In the Greater Willow Area, results to date are sufficient to justify developing the area with a stand-alone hub," the company stated in its report."

The next step in that program continues to be formulating a good plan for how those resources will be developed, something which may be more immediately foreseeable thanks to the extra cash reported this quarter.

In early July, the company raised the stakes already, agreeing to acquire 39.2 percent interest in the Greater Kuparuk Area in Alaska, meaning more money coming from the state.

“We’re benefitting from higher oil prices," said Ryan Lance, chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips, adding that they "remain committed to [the company's] disciplined approach to the business."

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