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Aug 3 (Reuters) - U.S. oil and gas producer Noble Energy Inc reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss and raised its full-year forecast for total sales volume as it benefits from improved drilling efficiency.
Noble, like its peers, has been hit by continued weakness in crude prices. The benchmark U.S. crude averaged $45.64 in the quarter ended June 30, about 21 percent lower than a year earlier.
The company said it expects sales volume to fall to a range of 405,000-415,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the current quarter, from 427,000 boepd in the second quarter.
Noble maintained its capital budget of less than $1.5 billion for 2016.
The company's net loss nearly tripled to $315 million, or 73 cents per share, in the second quarter ended June 30, from $109 million, or 28 cents, a year earlier.
Noble raised its 2016 sales volume forecast by more than 7 percent to an average of 415,000 boepd on a divesture-adjusted basis.
Noble's sales volume rose 42.8 percent to 427,000 boepd in the second quarter.
Excluding items, Noble reported a loss of 24 cents per share. Analysts on average were expecting a loss of 29 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. (Reporting by Amrutha Gayathri in Bengaluru; Editing by Martina D'Couto)