Encana swings to profit during first quarter

Encana Corp. (NYSE: ECA) (TSX: ECA) earned $116 million during the first quarter compared with a loss of $431 million during the same quarter last year.

Calgary, Alberta, Canada,-based Encana, which drills oil and natural-gas wells in Northern Colorado, said Tuesday that earnings benefited from stronger natural-gas prices during the first quarter. NYMEX gas futures improved to $4.94 per million British thermal units during the first quarter vs. $3.34 during the same quarter last year.

Encana generated $1.1 billion in first-quarter cash flow compared with $579 million during the same period a year earlier. The company ended the first quarter with $2.2 billion in cash and cash equivalents on its balance sheet.

In the Denver-Julesburg Basin, which includes territory in Northern Colorado, Encana added a sixth drilling rig during the first quarter. The company said it achieved operating efficiencies leading to lower drilling costs in the region. Encana also has seen improved initial oil production rates in Northern Colorado.

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