Dec 6 (Reuters) - ConocoPhillips, the largest independent oil and gas company, said on Friday that it expected to spend $16.7 billion next year, with more than half earmarked for shale projects in North America.
Conoco and other energy companies have ratcheted up spending on drilling in North America's shale basins because those projects are seen having higher returns and less risk.
In May, Conoco told analysts it expects to spend about $16 billion a year over the next five years. The company expects to spend about $16 billion this year.
The Houston company also said it was on track to hit its annual average production target of 1,600 barrels of oil equivalent per day, helped by output from projects in Canada, the North Sea and its shale fields like the Eagle Ford in south Texas.
About 55 percent of the 2014 funds are allocated for North America, with the balance going to Europe, Asia Pacific and other international businesses, the company said.
Shares of Conoco edged down 25 cents to $70.59 in midday New York Stock Exchange trading.
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