UPDATE 3-Canadian Natural boosts spending to raise oil output

Tue Dec 4, 2012 2:50pm EST
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* 2013 oil output at 482,000 to 513,000 bpd

* Natural gas production to fall 9 pct

* Capital budget rises 7.7 pct

* Sees improving Canadian oil prices

* Shares down 2.2 pct

By Scott Haggett

CALGARY, Alberta, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, the country's biggest independent petroleum producer, said on Tuesday it will boost oil production by about 9 percent next year as it looks to higher prices and strong demand for Canadian crude in the U.S. market.

The company, which operates in Canada, the North Sea and offshore West Africa, expects to spend C$6.95 billion ($7 billion) next year, 7.7 percent more than its 2012 capital budget. It's targeting oil production of between 482,000 and 513,000 barrels per day in 2013, up from a current forecast range of 452,000 to 460,000 bpd.

The increase comes despite a deep discount for Canada's heavy crude from the oil sands, which now sells for nearly $30 per barrel less than West Texas Intermediate oil, the benchmark U.S. price, because of pipeline constraints and surging supply.   Continued...