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ConocoPhillips cites cost inflation for $500M increase in 2018 CapEx guidance

ConocoPhillips executives said that despite cost inflation, the company is not paring the drilling activity it had outlined to analysts in November 2017.

In announcing its earnings July 26, the company boosted its 2018 CapEx guidance from $5.5 billion to $6 billion.

"The $500 million increase to CapEx is all in the Lower 48," ConocoPhillips Executive Vice President of production, drilling and projects Alan Hirshberg said during a July 26 call with investors. "But it's not a sign that we're ramping up our drilling activity and our CapEx to take advantage of higher prices."

ConocoPhillips Executive Vice President of finance and commercial and CFO Donald Wallette said that at a West Texas Intermediate crude oil price of $65 per barrel, the company now expects to generate cash from operations of between $11.5 billion and $12 billion, up from the $10 billion outlined in November 2017.

"These are very good high-volume adds. Because we've been beating all of our targets for all of our priorities, increasing the dividend, reducing our debt early, above target on shareholder distributions … we've chosen not to try to offset or reduce activity," Hirshberg said.

The company reported that second-quarter production net of closed asset dispositions had grown 5% year over year to 1.21 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, driven in part by a 37% increase in unconventional production in the Lower 48.

During the quarter, Hirshberg said Eagle Ford production averaged 182,000 bbl/d, Bakken production averaged 82,000 bbl/d and Delaware production averaged 28,000 bbl/d for a combined average of 292,000 bbl/d. Hirshberg noted production at the "Big 3" exited the quarter at over 300,000 bbl/d.

The company increased full-year 2018 production guidance to between 1.23 million boe and 1.26 million boe.