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Elsewhere today, I looked at a new rig productivity index that attempts to quantify how much more efficient our domestic onshore exploration and production companies have become. Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE: APC ) is one of the prime examples of how these companies are doing more with less.
This week, Anadarko released its third-quarter results, which saw volumes hit a record 616,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. The company is on target for 7% full-year production growth, while capital spending is down 35% from 2008. A quiet hurricane season is always helpful, but operating performance is really the key here.
Anadarko's results in Colorado's Wattenberg field continue to amaze. In 2007, the firm was running five rigs in the field and drilling around 60 wells per quarter. This quarter, Anadarko ran just three rigs, but drilled 70 wells. The production stream there is about 40% liquids, so this lightning-quick drilling operation is highly economic today.
That brings up another point. This summer, I wrote about Apache's (NYSE: APA ) beautiful balance between oil and natural gas production, contrasting it to the gassy output of Anadarko and EOG Resources (NYSE: EOG ) . Anadarko has achieved a very rapid shift in its production mix, moving from 36% liquids (i.e. oil and natural gas liquids like propane and isobutane) in the first quarter to 42% liquids this quarter.
Aside from the Wattenberg, Anadarko is turning to other oily onshore plays such as the Eagle Ford shale, which has also captivated the likes of Petrohawk Energy (NYSE: HK ) , Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE: PXD ) , and Saint Mary Land & Exploration (NYSE: SM ) .
Then, of course, there's the offshore, which has drawn a lot of attention to Anadarko's exploratory expertise this year. This quarter, the company brought its year-to-date deepwater discovery count to seven. Vito was drilled with partners Royal Dutch Shell and StatoilHydro (NYSE: STO ) in the Gulf of Mexico, while Venus opened a new frontier in the Sierra Leone-Liberian Basin.
With the high-impact exploration program that Anadarko will continue to execute in the future, I can hardly blame the company for taking a cautious approach to hedging in 2010. The firm has collared 75% of its expected natural gas production, and about 70% of its crude oil output. With regard to natural gas in particular, Anadarko said it sees "a lot of supply and demand fundamentals that make us want to be hedged in that commodity." Better safe than sorry in this game.