* To seek strategic alternatives for international assets
* Expects $1.2 billion fourth-quarter loss
* Incurred $1.5 billion in charge as it wrote down value of natural gas assets
Feb 13 (Reuters) - Newfield Exploration Co said it will seek “strategic alternatives” for its international oil and gas holdings as it looks to focus on its U.S. business, and forecast a big fourth-quarter loss due to a writedown of natural gas assets.
The oil and gas producer said on Wednesday it incurred a $1.5 billion writedown, primarily due to low natural gas prices and the sale of some assets. It also took a a non-cash charge in the quarter ended Dec. 31 for deferred income taxes of about $550 million.
The Woodlands, Texas-based Newfield expects to report a net loss of about $1.2 billion or $8.80 per share for the December quarter.
Larger rival EOG Resources Inc reported a quarterly loss earlier on Wednesday compared with a year-ago profit, as it wrote down the value of Canadian natural gas assets.
Newfield’s international assets - primarily offshore oil and natural gas developments in Malaysia and China - contributed nearly 30 percent to total revenue for 2011. The segments contributed 40 percent for the quarter ended Sept. 30.
The company had proved reserves of about 23 million barrels of oil and natural gas liquids in Malaysia and about 20 million barrels in China as of Dec. 31, 2011. It has a stake in about 925,000 net acres offshore Malaysia and about 290,000 net acres offshore China.
Newfield said it has engaged Goldman Sachs to explore strategic opportunities for the international assets, but gave no other details.
“This action reflects the confidence we have in our domestic portfolio and the substantial opportunities we see across our liquids-rich domestic resource areas,” Chief Executive Lee Boothby said in a statement.
Separately, the company said it plans to invest $1.7 billion to $1.9 billion in its capital budget for this year.
Production is expected to range from 44 to 47 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) compared to 47 million BOE it produced last year.