Coterra, Chesapeake, and Pioneer report strong profits, boost shareholder returns

U.S. shale producers Chesapeake Energy Corp (CHK.O), Pioneer Natural Resources and Coterra Energy Inc (CTRA.N)on Tuesday reported strong second-quarter profits and boosted shareholder returns with higher dividends and buybacks.

U.S. oil producers are benefiting from strong crude prices , which have been above $90 barrel since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, prompting a wave of sanctions from Western countries and creating supply disruptions.

The three companies combined reported $4.84 billion in profits for the quarter.

The earnings gains come as shale producers continue to face inflationary pressures that are driving up operating costs.

Coterra said its capital costs were up nearly 25% year-over-year, contributing to a 10% hike in its expected spending budget, to as much as $1.7 billion.

Chesapeake also said it will increase its outlays by 15% to between $1.75 billion and $1.95 billion, reflecting higher expenses and the addition of two drilling rigs. One of those rigs was activated last week, and the other will come on before year-end.

Chesapeake said it plans to increase its annual base dividend by 10%, to $2.20 a share, while Pioneer announced a base-plus-variable dividend of $8.57 a share.

Pioneer said it was returning more than 95% of its $2.7 billion in second quarter free cash flow to shareholders.

Coterra raised its dividend to 65 cents per share from 60 cents last quarter. Its base-plus-variable dividend represented 80% of free cash flow, the company said.

Chesapeake posted quarterly profit of $1.24 billion, or $8.27 a share, compared with a loss of $439 million, or $4.48 per share, a year ago.

Coterra’s profit was $1.23 billion, or $1.53 a share, compared with earnings of $30 million, or 8 cents per share, a year ago.

Pioneer earned $2.4 billion during the quarter, up from $380 million last year.