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ConocoPhillips bets $23 billion on U.S. shale oil as rivals retreat By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO. ConocoPhillips Chairman, Chief Executive Officer Ryan M. Lance, rings the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) closing bells on February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo


By Sabrina Valle and Arunima Kumar

HOUSTON (Reuters) – ConocoPhillips (NYSE:) Chief Executive Ryan Lance on Monday doubled down on U.S. shale and the world’s continued demand for oil with his second blockbuster acquisition in less than a year.

Nine months after Concho Resources’ $13.3 billion acquisition, Royal Dutch Shell’s West Texas properties was purchased for $9.5 billion. This puts ConocoPhillips’ future in shale.

Conoco’s ability and willingness to produce cheap oil is key to the strategy. Lance argues that oil and gas won’t be supplanted soon, despite Equinor, BP (NYSE :), and Shell quitting shale to make way for more renewable fuels.

He told analysts that he doesn’t think there is an imminent threat to the business.

Lance said that Conoco’s Shell assets will give Conoco more than 10 year of productive capacity and reward shareholders for sticking with fossil fuels.

Lance promised that the acquisition would create more value in the coming 10 years than a dividend and will deliver greater returns to shareholders.

Lance, who became CEO in 2012, joins Chevron (NYSE:) and Exxon Mobil (NYSE:) in rejecting the shift to solar, wind and batteries embraced by European oil majors. According to him, shareholders would like the company focus on its strengths.

This is what we are good at. Lance stated that this is the only thing Lance does really well. He was referring to the ability to generate strong cash flow through modest investments in oil and gas. This deal will increase capital expenditure by $1 billion annually, while adding $10 billion in free cash flow over the next ten years and increasing shareholder payouts.

Conoco’s carbon emissions per unit will drop by half thanks to Shell’s new efficient assets, said he.

Environmentalists are not happy with the purchase. They have urged Conoco this year to reduce customer emissions due to using its fuels. In May 58% of shareholders supported a petition that would not bind the company to reduce emissions from its products.

In a telephone interview, Mark van Baal of Follow This Dutch advocacy group stated that “buying fossil fuel assets” is precisely what investors want. He said, “Eventually he’ll have to listen.”

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