November 20, 2014 / 2:16 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 2-Apache to spend less in N. America as oil prices slide

* To spend $4 bln on N. American fields in 2015

* Forecasts 2015 N. American onshore liquids growth of 12-16 pct

* Sells some oil and gas assets for $1.4 bln (Adds analyst, spokeswoman comments; updates shares)

By Swetha Gopinath

Nov 20 (Reuters) - Apache Corp slashed its capital budget for North America by a third as a sharp decline in oil prices over the past few months makes drilling less lucrative.

A global supply glut, compounded by the North American shale boom, and tepid demand growth have sent global crude oil prices plunging to four-year lows.

A handful of companies, including Continental Resources Inc and Denbury Resources Inc have already cut spending plans and others are expected to follow suit.

Apache said it expects to spend $4 billion on its North American fields in 2015, a 26 percent drop from the $5.4 billion it had budgeted for the United States and Canada this year.

But Apache looks set to exceed its 2014 budget as it spent $4.8 billion on the region in the first nine months of the year.

“If we stay at that rate, we’ll end the year at $6.5 billion,” spokeswoman Castlen Kennedy said in an email.

Despite the smaller budget, Apache expects oil and natural gas liquids output from onshore North American fields to rise 12 to 16 percent in 2015, after adjusting for asset sales.

“On first glance, it looks like Apache will deliver solid liquids production growth in 2015 at lower levels of capex,” Simmons & Co analysts wrote in a note.

The company, which is looking to sell or spin off its international operations following pressure from activist investor Jana Partners, has sold about $10 billion in assets over the past year.

Apache also said on Thursday that it would sell oil and gas assets in southern Louisiana and the Anadarko Basin, spanning western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, for about $1.4 billion, in two separate deals.

“Our 2015 drilling plan ... will focus on projects that generate high rates of return and competitive growth,” Chief Executive Steven Farris said in a statement.

Apache’s stock, which touched a year high of $104.57 in July, has fallen about 30 percent in less than five months, mirroring the fall in oil prices.

The stock was up 1.8 percent at $73.38 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

RBC Richardson Barr and Wells Fargo Securities advised Apache on the asset sales announced on Thursday. (Additional reporting by Kanika Sikka in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das and Simon Jennings)

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