Noble Energy posts surprise profit as costs fall

U.S. oil and gas producer Noble Energy Inc reported a surprise quarterly profit as its operating costs per barrel of oil fell to the lowest in eight years.

A fall in prices for oilfield services, coupled with increased efficiencies, are helping oil producers keep operating costs low, even as their cash flows get squeezed by a more-than 70 percent fall in oil prices since mid-2014.

Noble's total operating costs, including lease operating expenses, production taxes and transportation, fell 22 percent to average $6.93 per barrel of oil equivalent (BOE) in the fourth quarter ended Dec.31.