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Continental Resources Raises Capital Budget 53%

July 9 (Bloomberg) -- Continental Resources Inc., the oil and natural gas company controlled by Oklahoma billionaire Harold Hamm, boosted planned spending 53 percent to $1.3 billion to accelerate drilling in five states this year.

Continental expects to cover some of the additional cost with asset sales, Hamm said today in a statement. The company, based in Enid, Oklahoma, said on July 7 it has more than tripled a bank credit line to $2.5 billion.

“We are responding to tremendous opportunities to accelerate our drilling program and to increase our valuable acreage positions in oil-rich and liquids-rich shale plays in the United States,” including North Dakota, Montana, western Oklahoma, Colorado and Wyoming, Hamm said in the statement.

The company said production will rise as much as 17 percent this year, up from a previous forecast of 13 percent. Continental is getting more oil out of wells drilled into hard, non-porous rock and fractured with a mixture of water, sand and chemicals, Hamm said. That makes additional drilling profitable at current prices, he said.

Crude oil futures rose 15 cents to $75.59 a barrel at 10:06 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The average price this year has been $78.25, 26 percent more than last year.

Continental fell $1, or 2.2 percent, to $43.57 at 4:02 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. It has risen 1.6 percent this year.

Continental has added acreage in the Bakken and Anadarko Woodford formations since Dec. 31, and intends to start its first Niobrara Shale well this year. It operates a total of 26 drilling rigs.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jim Polson in New York at jpolson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net.

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