Hess Corp's emphasis on exploration and recent drilling success will help the oil producer and refiner outshine its rivals in 2010, according to weekly financial newspaper Barron's.

New York-based Hess has cut costs and halved its debt, but devotes 80 percent of capital spending on exploration and production. The company discovered oil in Australia, Libya and Egypt last year.

Additionally, the company is sitting atop 1.43 billion barrels of energy reserves, 68 percent of it oil and the rest natural gas.

Hess is one of the highest exploration potentials in the sector, and any of their major exploration plays could have significant impact on its valuation, Oppenheimer analyst Fadel Gheit told Barron's. Gheit rates Hess outperform.

The company has a portfolio of projects that bullish analysts say will boost revenue and long-term output and send shares to $70 in the next year and a half, according to the report in Barron's May 11 edition.

Its shares closed at $63.36 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.

If crude prices see a sharp rebound, Hess could easily bypass that target, Barron's wrote, although the company's results could continue to suffer in 2009 from the sharp drop in oil prices.

Still if the global economy and crude stabilizes, some analysts expect Hess to earn $750 million, or $2.55 a share, in 2010, and most base their estimates on somewhat modest expectations for oil and gas, according to the report. (Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman, editing by Maureen Bavdek)