Exploration and production (E&P) spending worldwide now is on pace to accelerate 20% this year because of higher oil and natural gas prices, according to a survey of producers by Lehman Brothers. Lehman’s survey in December had forecast worldwide E&P spending in 2008 would rise only 11% (see NGI, Jan. 7).

The survey estimated that E&P spending in the United States this year will jump 15% to $98 billion; Canadian producers are expected to spend 11% more, or about $27.5 billion. Last December producers surveyed said they would only spend 3.5% more this year in the United States. And in Canada E&P spending was expected to drop 12%.

The semi-annual survey of 398 energy companies, which was issued on Friday, estimated that worldwide E&P spending in 2008 would be around $418 billion, well ahead of the $349 billion spent in 2007. Analysts said there has been a “substantial acceleration” in spending forecasts from just six months ago.

PetroCanada said it would spend 132% more in North America this year than in 2007, according to the survey. Anadarko Petroleum Corp. said it would hike its 2008 North American spending by 73% from a year ago. Also increasing their North American E&P spending — heavily weighted to Canada — are Talisman Energy Corp., 34%; Nexen Inc., 32%; Murphy Oil, 30%; Canadian Natural Resources, 25%; Apache Corp., 17%; Marathon Oil Corp., 15%; and Occidental Petroleum Corp., 13%.

International E&P spending in 2008 is pegged to jump 22% to $293 billion, according to the survey. In December Lehman estimated international spending would rise 16%.

Among the integrated oil majors, Total is now forecast to spend 21% more on its E&P projects worldwide than in 2007, while Royal Dutch Shell’s spending is expected to jump 19%. Chevron Corp. is hiking its spending 18% this year, and ExxonMobil Corp. plans to spend 17% more. ConocoPhillips has increased its 2008 E&P spending by 13%, and BP plc’s spending will be 9% higher, according to the survey.

©Copyright 2008Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.