(Adds comment on next PDVSA settlement, updates share price)
Jan 31 (Reuters) - ConocoPhillips beat quarterly profit estimates on Thursday as the world’s largest independent oil producer sold more oil at higher prices, sending its shares up more than 2 percent.
Total production, excluding Libya, rose 94,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) to 1.31 million boe/d in the fourth quarter.
The company also said it received $85 million from Venezuela’s state-run oil firm PDVSA in the fourth quarter as part of a $2 billion arbitration agreement the company received last year with the embattled producer.
The $85 million brings the total payout under the agreement to $430 million, the company said, below the expected $500 million in 2018. Conoco has said that if PDVSA does not continue to meet its obligations, it would renew its efforts to seize the company’s assets around the world.
PDVSA has compiled with the terms of the settlement and has said it intends to continue making quarterly payments, Conoco finance chief Donald Wallette said in a conference call with analysts on Thursday. The Houston-based company said it has existing permission from the U.S. government to accept the payments, he said.
Analyst Scott Hanold of RBC Capital Markets said the company was likely to cover any shortfall in the payout “in kind”, taking oil to sell to the market.
At home, Conoco, like its peers, has been riding a surge in crude production in the U.S. shale basins. The country’s output has reached record levels, overtaking that of Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the top world producer.
Conoco said total realized price per barrel was $53 in the fourth quarter, compared with $46.10 per barrel a year earlier.
“The combination of production and price realizations drove the outperformance,” analyst Hanold said.
In the first quarter of 2019, ConocoPhillips expects to produce 1.29 million boe/d to 1.33 million boe/d.
The company said adjusted net income rose to $1.31 billion, or $1.13 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $540 million, or 45 cents per share, a year earlier.
Analysts had expected a profit of $1.01 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Shares of the company were up 2.5 percent at $67.33 in afternoon trading. (Reporting by Debroop Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Chizu Nomiyama)