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Conoco results beat estimates, cuts capex amid low oil price

Conocophillips CEO Ryan Lance in New York April 8, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - ConocoPhillips, the largest U.S. independent oil and gas company, reported quarterly results that beat analysts' expectations Thursday and said it would cut capital expenditure as low crude oil prices persist.

The Houston-based company said it would cut 2015 capital spending to $11 billion from $11.5 billion, and also lowered its forecast for operating expenses.

Chief Executive Officer Ryan Lance said Conoco was preparing for "lower, more volatile prices."

Crude prices have tumbled about 20 percent since June 23 on expectations of new supply from Iran following its recent nuclear deal with world powers, as well as on slowing Chinese demand and growing inventories.

Conoco lost $179 million, or 15 cents per share, in the second quarter, after earning a profit of $2.1 billion, or $1.67 a share, in the same quarter a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items related to tax and impairment charges, Conoco had a profit of 7 cents a share. Analysts, on average, had expected a profit of 4 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Second-quarter output from continuing operations, excluding Libya, was 1.595 million barrels oil equivalent per day (boed), an increase of 39,000 boed compared from a year ago.

Conoco said it was on track to achieve the higher end of its 2015 production growth target of 2 percent to 3 percent, helped by higher output from U.S. shale fields.

(Reporting by Anna Driver; Editing by Alden Bentley and Bernadette Baum)