UPDATE 1-Conoco sets 2013 budget flat at $15.8 bln

Fri Dec 7, 2012 3:21pm EST

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Dec 7 (Reuters) - ConocoPhillips said on Friday its capital budget next year will be flat at $15.8 billion, with more than half of the U.S. oil company's spending directed toward North American oil and gas projects.

Moderating North American crude oil prices and low gas prices are prompting many exploration and production companies to hold the line on spending in 2013 following several years of robust growth.

Still, shale formations, seen as a less risky, lower-cost means of producing crude, are still attracting investment from companies both large and small.

In 2013 about 60 percent of the U.S. oil and gas company's capital expenditures be allocated to the company's properties in basins like the Eagle Ford in south Texas and the Bakken in North Dakota that produce more valuable crude oil, Conoco said.

Conoco also said it expects to complete its plan to sell up to $10 billion in less profitable assets next year.

When the company has finished shedding oil and gas assets it no longer considers strategic, it will be "on track to deliver on our long-term annual growth goals of 3 to 5 percent on both volumes and margins, with a compelling dividend," Ryan Lance, Conoco's chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Shares of Conoco rose 51 cents, or nearly 1 percent, to $57.86 in afternoon New York Stock Exchange trading.

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