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An Update on Talisman Energy's Restructuring

The last time I wrote about Talisman Energy (NYSE: TLM  ) the company had just unveiled full-year 2013 results, and they were much worse than analyst expectations. However, the oil and gas producer's outlook remained bright.

So what progress has Talisman made since the release of these disastrous results?

First-quarter progress
Talisman released an investor presentation at the end of the first quarter detailing year-over-year achievements, which for the most part were impressive.

Since the first quarter of 2013 the company has boosted liquids production by 19% and cash flow by 64%. Furthermore, Talisman has halved drilling cycle times within the Eagle Ford and Marcellus shale regions. Management layers have been reduced by 25% and the company's executive team has been cut in half.

Meanwhile, the company's gross debt has fallen to the lower end of management's targeted range: 1.5 times to 2 times times cash flow. This has been accomplished with $6.6 billion of asset divestments, and a further $2 billion of sales are planned within the next 12 to 18 months.

What about the future?
The company and its management are not about to rest on the progress made over the last year.

Talisman is targeting production growth of 5% per annum through 2018. Production growth is expected to drive cash flow growth of 10% to 12% over the same period, hitting $3.5 billion per annum by 2018.

North American assets are not expected to be free cash flow positive until 2015, but through to 2018 the projects should produce more cash than they are consuming.

Not the only one
Talisman is not the only exploration and production company relying on North America to hold up international assets. Marathon Oil (NYSE: MRO  ) has been offloading international assets to buy back stock and fund North American development.

Marathon is investing roughly $3.6 billion of its $5.9 billion 2014 capital budget in North American resource plays. It plans to accelerate drilling activity by 20% within its Bakken and Eagle Ford acreage.

However, Marathon is driving better results from its wells. The company's internal rate of return within the Bakken and Eagle Ford plays is currently in excess of 70%.

After the disposal of the company's Norwegian assets, North America accounts for around 60% of Marathon's overall production, making the company more of a domestic play than anything else. As production increases the company is only likely to become more reliant on this continent for growth.

International growth
Back to Talisman. Aside from North America, where Talisman is concentrating the majority of its exploration and production activities due to the low-cost, high-margin, oil-rich production on offer, the company's main regions for growth are the Asia-Pacific and Indonesia.

The company's Asia-Pacific assets are especially low cost: Cash flow from operations is targeted to hit $1.2 billion during 2014, nearly double the near-$700 million in capital expenditure planned. Cash flow within the region is expected to expand 10% per annum through 2018 and production of 140,000 barrels of oil per day is expected during 2014.

Within Indonesia, Talisman's assets are chucking out cash with netbacks in the neighborhood of 60%.

Foolish summary
Talisman has made great progress during the year and change since its turnaround plan began. The company has slashed debt, reduced costs, and sold off high-cost assets. All these separate factors have led analysts to conclude that the company will return to profit next year, with free cash flow generation also in the cards.

The future looks bright for Talisman.

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Rupert Hargreaves

Rupert has been writing for the Motley Fool since December 2012. He primarily covers tobacco and resource companies with a passion for value-oriented investments. .

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