Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the largest U.S. independent oil and natural-gas producer by market value, plans to boost spending as much as 13 percent as it taps onshore crude reservoirs and pushes ahead on African projects.

Capital spending this year will be $6.6 billion to $6.9 billion, The Woodlands, Texas-based company said yesterday in a statement. The company spent $6.1 billion in 2011.

More than 90 percent of the company’s exploration and production spending this year will go toward properties containing oil and liquids, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Hackett said in the statement. The focus on oil and liquids comes as crude trades for more than $100 a barrel in New York, while natural-gas futures hit a 10-year low today.

The company will be “dialing back U.S. onshore dry gas activity,” Hackett said in the statement.

Sales volumes will be 256 million to 260 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2012, or as much as 4.8 percent more than last year, Anadarko said. The forecast accounts for asset sales and the reduced gas activity, which together will decrease volumes by about 6 million barrels. Last year’s growth was about 5.5 percent.

The company is on a path to reach a net debt to capital target of 25 percent to 35 percent, according to today’s slides. Anadarko ended last year at 41 percent, and it may be at 32 percent or lower this year in part because of asset sales and the resolution of a dispute in Algeria.

Joint Ventures Ahead

Anadarko has an initial agreement for a joint venture for its Salt Creek enhanced oil recovery project, the company said in an investor presentation today. Anadarko would sell 23 percent of the assets in a transaction that would include the buyer paying a portion of development costs, Chief Financial Officer Bob Gwin said. Anadarko didn’t identify its Salt Creek partner because the transaction, which may close in coming weeks, has confidentiality restrictions, he said.

Anadarko also said it’s considering a joint venture for holdings in the DJ Basin, excluding its core Wattenberg area. The company may do at least one more joint-venture transaction during the year, Gwin said.

Anadarko plans to devote about 55 percent of its spending this year to U.S. onshore properties, 25 percent to international projects, 10 percent to the Gulf of Mexico and 10 percent to midstream and other work. Spending this year will be in line with cash flow, the company said in slides posted online for its investor meeting.

Boosting Resource Estimates

Anadarko has holdings in such U.S. onshore projects as the Eagle Ford Shale of Texas and the Wattenberg field of Colorado. The company boosted its estimate of net resources in the Eagle Ford to the equivalent of more than 600 million barrels of oil, compared with an earlier estimate of 350 million.

The company has a new liquids program that uses horizontal drilling in the Carthage area of eastern Texas. Anadarko plans to have six to eight rigs in the area during 2012 and drill about 75 wells. The area may hold 300 million barrels of oil equivalent of net resources, according to Anadarko.

Anadarko said it plans to cut its rig count in the Marcellus Shale of Pennsylvania to 13 from 21 during the year, citing market conditions. The company’s average recovery is about 8 billion cubic feet of gas per well in the Marcellus, according to the release.

Anadarko forecast gas prices to be $4 to $6 per million British thermal units in 2014, according to presentation slides. Gas prices slid to a 10-year-low of $2.204 per million Btu in overnight electronic trading as warmer-than-normal weather cut demand for the fuel.

Offshore Mozambique Recovery

The company also has projects in areas including the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Africa. Anadarko boosted its estimate of the recoverable gas in an area offshore Mozambique to a range of 17 trillion cubic feet to 30 trillion cubic feet or more, compared with a previous floor of 15 trillion.

A proposed liquefied natural gas development in Mozambique may cost as much as $15.7 billion, Anadarko said, citing liquefaction facilities, exploration, wells and subsea infrastructure. An investment decision may occur in 2013, with gas sales possible in 2018, the company said. Two LNG units each may have a capacity of 750 million cubic feet a day of gas.

Anadarko plans to drill about 25 “high-impact” deep-water exploration or appraisal wells globally this year. The company said it expects seven to 10 wells off Mozambique. Anadarko’s drilling program includes six to eight planned wells in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico.

No Big Acquisitions

The company doesn’t see a need for a major acquisition right now, Hackett said in an interview with reporters today. Anadarko is focusing on expanding its own projects and becoming the “most coveted company on Earth,” he said.

“If that happens, maybe somebody will come along and say ‘We want you,”’ Hackett said. “But maybe it’s too expensive for them too, and we like either of those answers.”

Hackett is scheduled to give up his CEO title in May. He will become executive chairman and Al Walker, the president, will become CEO. Walker said he doesn’t see a need to make major changes in Anadarko’s strategy.

Anadarko fell 1.3 percent to $83.64 at the close in New York.

Independent oil companies focus on finding and producing crude and natural gas, not refining or selling fuel.

(Corrects share increase in penultimate paragraph.)
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