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ConocoPhillips Expects Production Growth To Top 3% A Year

ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Jim Mulva said Wednesday the company expects long-term production growth of more than 3%.

Speaking at the company's analyst meeting, Mulva said he expects the company to find more oil than it produces over the next five years.

It has 12 major projects scheduled to come on line through 2009, according to Executive Vice President Randy Limbacher.

ConocoPhillips , the No. 3 U.S. oil and gas company, expects to produce about 2.375 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2007, including its stake in Russian oil company Lukoil. The company produced about 2.49 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in the fourth quarter of 2006.

The company has trimmed its plans for capital spending for 2007 by about 25% from last year's levels, expecting to shell out about $13.5 billion this year, citing greater concern about costs.

Mulva expects capital spending to stay around $13.5 billion for the next few years.

Venezuela is attempting to strip majority control of many oil projects from some of the world's biggest oil companies, which would affect ConocoPhillips' stake in its Hamaca, Petrozuata and Corocoro projects.

Mulva said the Venezuelan Government has not yet presented ConocoPhillips with terms for compensation for the proposed changes to its ownership or commercial terms of the operations going forward.

"We can expect to have those discussions in the next couple of weeks," he said.

The company is also looking at investments in Iraq, according to Bill Berry, an executive vice president of exploration and production at the company.

He said the company was in talks with Lukoil over a potential stake in the West Qurna field and in discussions with Iraq's oil ministry over other opportunities.

The company plans to spend about $4 billion on share buybacks in 2007 and expects to achieve a debt-to-capital target of 15% to 20% by year end.

ConocoPhillips also expects to complete its $3 billion to $4 billion asset disposition program in 2007, including the sale of marketing assets in Thailand, Malaysia and central Europe.

The company has already sold about $1.5 billion in assets through the program.

Shares of ConocoPhillips fell 14 cents to $66.73 in early afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.