June 18 (Reuters) - Oil and gas companies will increase exploration and production (E&P) spending by 6 percent to $712 billion this year, despite a slight pullback in spending by industry majors, Barclays said.
Spending by major oil companies is expected to remain flat this year, Barclays said in a report on Wednesday. The bank had earlier said it expected their spending to rise by nearly 3 percent.
The big oil companies, Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA and BP Plc, are keeping a tight lid on spending as they seek to increase shareholder returns.
Barclays said it expected smaller, independent oil and gas companies to drive spending growth in North America, where capital budgets were expected to rise 8.4 percent this year, higher than the 7.3 percent it forecast earlier. (Reporting by Swetha Gopinath in Bangalore; Editing by Kirti Pandey)