ConocoPhillips on Friday said it plans to spend $13.5 billion for its 2011 capital program, with almost 90% set aside to support exploration and production (E&P).

"This year's capital budget reflects our emphasis on building the upstream business," said CEO Jim Mulva. "We expect competitive returns from our increased investments in North American and Australian unconventional resource projects. In addition, we are pursuing organic reserve and production growth by converting our existing resource base to proven reserves, participating in high-impact exploration wells and building acreage positions for future development."

More details about spending are to be explained in March, he said.

The E&P spending, set at about $12 billion, includes about $1.7 billion for worldwide exploration. In North America, ConocoPhillips plans to spend half of the E&P budget, or $6 billion, emphasizing liquids-rich resource plays.

In the Lower 48 states capital funding is to focus on the Eagle Ford, Bakken and Barnett shales, as well as the Permian Basin. Ongoing development also will continue in the San Juan Basin.

In addition the company plans to continue to contribute to the Marine Well Containment Co., the rapid-response company to capture and contain oil and gas in the event of a deepwater well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. The company was launched last summer by ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell plc; BP plc joined earlier this month (see Daily GPI, Feb. 2; July 23, 2010).

Spending in Canada this year is to be directed to existing oilsands projects and "selective programs" in Western Canada's gas basins, "primarily on high-graded resource plays and on maintaining a substantial position for future development." In Alaska, where ConocoPhillips is one of the biggest producers, spending will go toward developing existing Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk fields, as well as the Western North Slope.

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