March 5, 2020 / 12:39 PM / 4 months ago

CORRECTED-Exxon CEO sticks to spending targets despite oil downturn

(Corrects day in first paragraph to Thursday, from Tuesday)

March 5 (Reuters) - Two years into an ambitious growth plan to revive earnings at the largest U.S. oil company, Exxon Mobil said on Thursday it would stick to its spending plans even as its rivals trim costs.

Oil prices are down over 20% this year and natural gas prices have touched their lowest in decades, as fears of the economic impact of the coronavirus dent short-term demand.

The long-term industry outlook too is clouded by a push toward cleaner fuel and pressure from investors for higher returns.

Exxon's Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods said the company would spend between $30 billion and $35 billion a year through 2025 and forecast $33 billion in capital expenditure this year.

On Tuesday, Exxon's closest U.S.-rival Chevron showed off its own war chest by highlighting it has up to $80 billion that it could use for shareholder returns over the next five years regardless of the price that oil trades at.

As the two companies race to become the first to produce 1 million barrels of oil-equivalent per day in Permian, the top U.S. oilfield, Exxon said on Thursday it remains on track to meet the target by 2024. (Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru and Jennifer Hiller in New York; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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