In an interim update Tuesday, ConocoPhillips said higher production in the Lower 48, Australia and Venezuela won’t be enough to lift 1Q2006 production on a boe/d basis above output in the final quarter of 2005. The Houston-based producer also said it expects crude prices to be higher than in the previous quarter, up to $61.75/bbl from $56.90, while natural gas prices will drop to $9.01/Mcf (Henry Hub) from $13.

Higher output is expected from oil and gas operations in the Lower 48, Australia and Venezuela, but unscheduled shutdowns will lower volumes in Alaska, Norway and Nigeria. However, ConocoPhillips said its partner-operated Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska is expected to return to production in 2Q2006, and in the Gulf of Mexico, the partner-operated Ursa field and the company-operated Green Canyon field have returned to pre-hurricane production levels.

The company completed its acquisition of Burlington Resources Inc. last Friday, but the acquisition will not impact exploration and production segment earnings and operating statistics for the quarter.

ConocoPhillips’ 1Q results are expected to be reported on April 26.

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