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May 2, 2017

Encana's operating profit beats as oil prices climb

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Encana Corp (ECA.TO), Canada's No. 2 oil and natural gas producer, reported a better-than-expected operating profit for the first quarter on Tuesday, helped by the rise in oil and gas prices.

Oil prices began to rise late last year after a two-year slump and have now stabilized at above US$50 per barrel, as an OPEC-led production cut and rebounding demand slowly erode a global glut.

Globally traded Brent crude prices jumped 55 per cent in the January-March period.

Encana said it realized US$43.45 per barrel of oil and natural gas liquids production in the quarter ended March 31, compared with US$33.09 a year ago.

The company posted a net profit of $431 million for the first quarter, compared with a loss of $379 million a year ago.

On a per share basis, Encana reported an operating profit of 11 cents, beating analysts' average estimate of 3 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

In recent years Encana has narrowed operations to focus on four core North American plays: the Montney and Duvernay in Western Canada, and the Eagle Ford and Permian in the United States.

The meant the company's production fell 17 per cent to 317,900 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the first quarter.

Encana said it expects to grow oil and condensate production by more than 35 per cent between the fourth quarter of 2016 and the fourth quarter of 2017, with output from its core assets estimated to rise by more than 20 per cent.