UPDATE 3-Exxon expects flat output in 2014, spending to drop 6 pct
NEW YORK, March 5 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp, the world's largest publicly traded energy company, said on Wednesday it expects oil and natural gas production to be flat this year as overall spending falls 6 percent to about $39.8 billion.
Investors who had expected production growth sent shares down 3 percent in earlier trading. The company's current outlook for output, provided at an annual meeting with investors, was adjusted from a year-earlier to exclude some volume from Iraq and Abu Dhabi, the company said.
"We took a set of low margin barrels off the base," Exxon Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson told investors.
Evan Calio, an analyst with Morgan Stanley, noted at the meeting that oil and gas production growth has been "elusive" for Exxon.
In recent years, Exxon and other large oil companies have invested record amounts on exploration and production projects to boost oil and gas output. Last year, Exxon spent $42.5 billion, an amount the Irving, Texas company describes as a peak.
Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have not yet disrupted Exxon's activity in Russia, where it is prospecting for oil and gas in Arctic waters, Tillerson told investors.
"We don't see any new challenges out of the current situations," said Tillerson, noting this would change if there was government action such as sanctions.
Still, the company has put on hold its pursuit of the Ukraine Skifska block in the Black Sea, it said. Continuación...