Encana delivered strong performance through the fourth quarter of 2017 to close another year successfully executing its strategy, delivering significant oil and condensate growth and driving additional efficiency gains, the company reported in a summary of the year. Supported by the strong finish to 2017, the company states it is firmly on track to meet or exceed the targets in the five-year plan shared at its Investor Day in October 2017.
Driven by its focus on innovation and execution efficiency, Encana's core assets delivered production growth of approximately 31 percent from the fourth quarter of 2016 to the fourth quarter of 2017. This growth significantly exceeds the company's original target of greater than 20 percent and is above the top end of its revised 25 to 30 percent guidance range. Encana accomplished this growth with a capital investment of approximately $1.8 billion.
"Consistent with our plan, we delivered a strong finish to 2017," said Doug Suttles, Encana President & CEO. "We have established a powerful track record of meeting and beating our targets, continuously driving efficiency and capital discipline. We are positioned to deliver significant value growth in 2018 while funding our capital program from corporate cash flows."
The company expects its 2018 capital program will be similar to 2017 with modest allocation adjustments to optimize delivery. Encana plans to invest virtually all its anticipated 2018 capital in its core assets, with around 70 percent directed to the Permian and Montney. The company anticipates between 25 to 35 percent production growth from its core assets from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018, with significant oil and condensate growth in the second half of the year.
Encana's large-scale cube development model continues to maximize returns and resource recovery from its stacked, unconventional reservoirs. This development approach also maximizes capital efficiency. Cube development and enhanced completion designs delivered strong performance in the Permian where fourth quarter production exceeded 80,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (BOE/d), well ahead of the company's target of 75,000 BOE/d.
In the Montney, liquids production more than doubled from the fourth quarter of 2016 to the fourth quarter of 2017 driven by a focus on condensate rich wells and the early start-up of the Tower, Saturn and Sunrise processing plants. In 2018, Encana expects to grow its liquids production as it fills capacity at the new plants and completes two additional liquids hubs in the second half of the year. Encana has minimized its exposure to AECO pricing through a focus on growing condensate production and diversifying market access. Overall, approximately four percent of expected total 2018 revenue is exposed to AECO pricing.
In the fourth quarter, Encana further focused its portfolio with the sale of most of its Wheatland assets in south central Alberta. These assets consisted of approximately 520,000 net acres and approximately 4,750 gas wells. In 2017, Encana's production from the assets was approximately 60 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of natural gas.