HOUSTON/WILLISTON, N.D., Jan 29 (Reuters) - ConocoPhillips and Occidental Petroleum Corp on Thursday slashed exploration spending plans for this year, as the third- and fourth-largest U.S. oil companies attempt to cope with a steep slide in crude prices.
The cuts follow similar steps by rival Hess Corp earlier this week while Royal Dutch Shell, Europe's largest oil company, said on Thursday it would reduce its spending the next three years by $15 billion.
Rising supplies of oil, from sources including North American shale basins, and weakening demand have flooded global markets with crude, sending prices plummeting almost 60 percent since June. On Thursday, crude traded in New York at $43.80 per barrel, much lower than many oil and gas projects require to make money.
In response to the price collapse, oil and gas companies have made drastic cuts to budgets, idled drilling rigs and in some cases, cut jobs.
Conoco, which said in December it would cut 2015 spending by 20 percent to $13.5 billion, now expects spending to be scaled back by a further 15 percent to $11.5 billion. Occidental said it would slash its capital budget by 33 percent to $5.8 billion this year.
"There's a lot of debate right now about the duration of the current low oil prices. But we're assuming that they will stay low for 2015 and we're taking decisive actions accordingly," Ryan Lance, Conoco's CEO, said on a conference call.
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