Marathon Oil Corp. on Friday announced it had approved a 2004 capital, investment and exploration expenditure budget of approximately $2.26 billion, a 3.7% increase over 2003. The company spent $2.18 billion in 2003, excluding $250 million spent on acquisitions.

About 60% of the budget will be allocated to exploration and production, while 25% will go toward refining projects. Another 15% has been set aside for integrated gas and corporate activities.

Worldwide production capital expenditures are projected to be $810 million during 2004, with key investments in Equatorial Guinea. In addition, Marathon will be targeting investments to support growth and development in Russia, Norway and the Gulf of Mexico.

Included in the budget are plans to drill 11 “significant” exploration wells in Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Norway, the Gulf of Mexico and Nova Scotia, with exploitation activities focused on projects primarily in the United States. Marathon said its exploitation includes data gathering and drilling of wells in and around current producing areas that, while not without risk, have lower risk than most exploration activities.

Within its integrated gas budget, Marathon plans to spend $263 million, with most of the funding toward support of a proposed liquefied natural gas project in Equatorial Guinea.

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