Economic performance is an integral component of our vision of sustainable development. Noble Energy is committed to generating long-term value and returning free cash flow to investors. To achieve these goals we focus on the following guiding principles:
Execution of a disciplined capital allocation process by:
- designing a flexible investment program aligned with the current commodity price environment
- maintaining a strong balance sheet and liquidity position Enhancing capital efficiencies by:
- utilizing our technical competencies and applying historical learnings from unconventional US shale plays to reduce US onshore finding and development costs
Leveraging the benefits of our well-positioned and diversified portfolio, including:
- exercising investment optionality and flexibility afforded by our assets, certain of which are held by production
- continuing portfolio optimization actions to maximize strategic value
Capitalizing on a currently low-cost offshore environment with execution of high-quality, long-cycle development projects, such as:
- progressing Leviathan Phase 1 field development and monetization of natural gas offshore West Africa
Maintaining financial strength through:
- focusing operational activities on high-margin, high-return assets
- improving overall corporate returns
We believe our approach positions our company for sustainability, operational efficiency, and long-term success throughout the oil and natural gas business cycle.
2018 Financial Performance
In 2018, Noble Energy executed strong financial performance against our goals. Key performance highlights were:
- Delivered 11 percent total volume growth over 2017
- Returned approximately $1.1 billion to investors, including $208 million in dividends, $295 million in share repurchases and $609 million reduction in debt
- Delivered $2 billion in strategic portfolio proceeds from asset sales
- Exited 2018 with over $4 billion in liquidity, with our agency credit rating outlook improved
2019 is of strategic importance for Noble Energy as we transition our business to a long-term sustainable free cash flow profile. We will take a major step on this path in late 2019, as the Leviathan field in the Eastern Mediterranean comes on line and delivers its first sales.
To achieve this, we will focus on our key objective of maintaining capital discipline while delivering top tier performance in the U.S. onshore and global offshore markets. For 2019, we have an organic capital budget of $2.4 billion to $2.6 billion, which is 17 percent lower than 2018. We expect these investments to grow volumes on a pro forma basis by 5 percent for the company as a whole, and 10 percent in the U.S. onshore.
We look forward to continuing to execute on our strategy of generating long-term value and sustainable free cash flow for our shareholders.