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UPDATE 3-ConocoPhillips raises savings target from Concho deal, boosts buybacks

(Adds comments on deals from webcast)

June 30 (Reuters) - ConocoPhillips on Wednesday raised its share buyback plans by $1 billion and again lifted expected savings from its $10 billion acquisition of Permian basin-focused Concho Resources.

The increase in buybacks is in line with the company’s push to meet its promise of returning 30% of cash from operations to shareholders and will bring total planned distributions for the year to about $6 billion.

The top U.S. independent producer’s forecast comes as globally-traded crude prices hover around $75, up 45% from the start of the year, as fuel demand recovers from a pandemic-forced slump.

Shares of the company, which resumed its share repurchase program of $1.5 billion in March, were up 2.4% at $60.43.

ConocoPhillips said it expects to save about $1 billion annually from the Concho buy, compared with its previous forecast of $750 million and double the $500 million estimated when the deal was announced in October.

The company cut its 2021 capital expenditures by $200 million from its prior forecast of $5.5 billion, and expects adjusted operating costs to be $100 million lower at $6.1 billion, citing “stronger-than-projected business execution.”

ConocoPhillips projected capital expenditure to average about $7 billion annually for the next 10 years, with about 3% compounded annual production growth.

It hopes to return more than $65 billion to shareholders from 2022 to 2031, with the amount fully funded from cash from operations.

Talking about mergers and acquisitions, Chief Executive Ryan Lance said ConocoPhillips was still focused on integrating Concho but would stay in the market as a buyer and a seller.

“Obviously, we look at things, we think more consolidation needs to occur,” he said on a webcast.

ConocoPhillips said it hopes to sell $2 billion to $3 billion of assets by the end of 2022.

The company posted a $2.7 billion loss last year, as the global oil industry was hammered by pandemic-related price declines and assets writedowns. (Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Arun Koyyur and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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