FILE PHOTO: Flags fly outside ConocoPhillips offices in Houston, Texas, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
(Reuters) – ConocoPhillips (COP.N) unveiled a 10-year plan on Tuesday and said it would target free cash flow of about $50 billion with annual capital spending averaging less than $7 billion over the next decade.
The Houston-based company’s shares rose a fraction to $56.80 on Tuesday morning.
The largest U.S. independent crude producer said it expects to spend about $20 billion on dividends and $30 billion in share buybacks in 10 years.
The announcement comes as investors, frustrated by weak commodity prices for 5 years, have been pressuring oil and gas companies to cut back on drilling and shore up cash to return to shareholders.
“We challenge any other (exploration and production) company to show you a plan like this,” Chief Executive Ryan Lance told analysts and investors at a meeting in Houston on Tuesday.
The company expects several decades of lackluster oil prices, with U.S. oil to average between $40 to $70 per barrel through the 2050s. Ride sharing, electric vehicles and urbanization will impact demand for the company’s products, but Executive Vice President Matt Fox said oil and gas will remain an important part of the energy mix through 2050.
The company also forecast annual production growth averaging more than 3% from 2020 to 2029.
ConocoPhillips, which has been divesting assets to focus on its U.S. shale base, had in October posted a quarterly profit that beat analysts’ estimates, primarily as higher shale production offset lower crude prices and higher exploration costs.
Reporting by Jennifer Hiller in Houston, Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Nick Zieminski