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Conoco Mulls Exit from Libya, Kazakhstan

Source: Reuters 3/25/2011, Location: Africa

ConocoPhillips (COP.N) is contemplating selling its interest in oil and gas properties in countries including Libya and Kazakhstan as part of planned asset sales, according to Argus oil analyst Phil Weiss.

"Selective country exits are also possible. Candidates would be Vietnam, Libya, Algeria, Kazakhstan and Nigeria," Weiss wrote in a note to clients on Friday following a meeting with Conoco's chief financial officer and head of investor relations.

Conoco said at its annual analyst meeting on Wednesday that it plans to sell an additional $5 billion to $10 billion of assets, and that the strategy might include exits from countries where its interests are not large. It did not provide specifics.

A spokesman for Houston-based Conoco had no immediate comment on Weiss's note.

Conoco is in the midst of a plan to boost shareholder returns with share buybacks and higher dividends. Proceeds from the asset sales, expected to total as much as $17 billion, will be used to fund that program.

In Libya, Conoco holds a 16.3 interest in the Waha concessions, where net oil production averaged 46,000 barrels per day (bpd) last year.

The company's production in Algeria averaged 13,000 bpd in 2010, and output in Nigeria was 20,000 barrels of liquids per day and 141 million cubic feet of natural gas.

In the Caspian Sea, Conoco has an 8.4 percent interest in the Kazakhstan's North Caspian Sea Production Sharing Agreement, which includes the Kashagan Field. First production from that project is expected in late 2012.

Shares of Conoco rose 45 cents to $80.15 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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