Marathon Oil Corp. will divest its North Sea oil and gas operations to build up U.S. onshore drilling in shale regions.

The North Sea sale and investment in the U.S. will help Marathon increase oil and gas output, President and CEO Lee Tillman said at a meeting of analysts in New York Wednesday.

The company will add $700 million to its exploration budget in 2014, bringing it to $5.9 billion.

“Of that, $3.6 billion — or nearly 60% — is earmarked for unconventional prospects in the U.S. and Canada,” Market Watch said.

“The company plans to spend $2.3 billion to drill up to 260 wells next year in the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas. Marathon will put $1 billion into North Dakota Bakken prospects, and another $236 million toward work in the Oklahoma Woodford basin,” the report said.

Already, some 70% of Marathon’s cash flow comes from North American oil and natural gas production, according to Chief Financial Officer J.R. Sult.

Marathon is also spending $2.5 billion next year on share buyback, it said Wednesday.

Occidental Petroleum is also selling international assets to put more focus on North America, Market Watch said.

Apache Corp. sold some of its Egyptian natural gas operations to China’s Sinopec this year.

ConocoPhillips wants to sell assets in Nigeria and earlier this year sold production in Algeria.


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