ConocoPhillips executive vice president of exploration and production Matt Fox. Image courtesy of ConocoPhillips.

ConocoPhillips said Thursday it plans to end deepwater exploration activities by 2017 and it will sell acreage it doesn’t intend to drill.

During the company’s third quarter conference call, a ConocoPhillips executive said the firm will wind down its exploration activities in the Gulf of Mexico but will not exit the play entirely.

Executive vice president of exploration and production Matt Fox told investors the company intends to “not be doing deepwater exploration by 2017” but it will still move forward with a “significant” exploration program next year, according to a transcript provided by The Street.

The company currently expects to spend about $800 million in 2016 on deepwater exploration and appraisal activities.

Fox said that, despite the exploration wind down, the company is willing to retain its deepwater discoveries if that move ” maximizes the value” of those investments.

However, the company has also not ruled out exiting discoveries that have been partially explored but not developed yet.

“Development of the discoveries that we have in deepwater is quite some way off and we may choose to stay with those developments but we may choose to exit before development happens there.,” Fox said.

The Houston-based company currently has about 2.2 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico and three existing discoveries.

Fox added that ConocoPhillips will be marketing acreage positions that it does not intend to drill.

Appraisal activities on existing discoveries will continue and the company will also continue funding existing commitments as it considers possible monetization options.

“Despite our stated plans to reduce deepwater exploration spending over time we’re continuing to fund activity based on existing commitments while we also progress possible monetization options. This is important for protecting the value we’ve created from our existing program,” Fox said.

Houston-based ConocoPhillips said Thursday it will accelerate capital and operating cost cuts after reporting a $1.1 billion third quarter net loss.

The company reported a loss of $0.87 per share, compared with third quarter 2014 earnings of $2.7 billion, or $2.17 per share.

Excluding special items, adjusted third quarter earnings came in at a net loss of $466 million, or a loss of $0.38 per share, down from adjusted earnings of $1.6 billion, or $1.29 per share, in the year ago quarter.

The company also booked after-tax impacts of $246 million tied to the termination of a rig contract for a Gulf of Mexico deepwater drillship among other impacts.


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