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ConocoPhillips Seeks To Sell Natural Gas Assets For $8B

Lifting at a rig

Having struggled with a lower and more volatile price environment for the past two years, ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) said on Thursday that it would be seeking to reap up to US$8 billion from a divestiture program that would focus mainly on selling natural gas assets in North America.

ConocoPhillips’s new plan also includes a share repurchase program of US$3 billion, and also aims to grow dividends and further reduce capital expenditures, the company said in a statement ahead of an analyst and investor meeting today.

ConocoPhillips will be adjusting costs and spending to increase its resilience during a time of low commodity prices and seize upside opportunities when prices are higher, chairman and CEO Ryan Lance said in the company’s press release.

ConocoPhillips has factored in Brent prices at around US$50 a barrel in its plans to shore up capital, the manager noted.

Even with low oil prices, the company is firmly holding onto its declared priority for “a 20 to 30 percent payout of operating cash flows to shareholders”.

Last month, ConocoPhillips announced a quarterly dividend of US$0.25 per share for the third quarter.

A few weeks later, the company reported a huge loss for the third quarter, although a smaller loss than analysts had expected. Upon announcing the Q3 results, ConocoPhillips also reduced its capital 2016 expenditure guidance to US$5.2 billion from US$5.5 billion, in what was the latest of a series of lowering capex targets.

In today’s news release, the company said its 2017 capex guidance is now US$5 billion, down by 4 percent on the year, and a staggering 50 percent lower than the 2015 capex and investments of US$10.1 billion.

Next year ConocoPhillips will focus its spending on “flexible unconventional development programs in the Lower 48, conventional projects in Europe, Asia Pacific and Alaska, and base asset maintenance,” it said.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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