ConocoPhillips became the first major oil company to announce plans to reduce spending due to falling crude prices as drilling in some emerging North American fields becomes less profitable. The third-largest U.S. energy producer can meet its target to boost production by as much as 5 percent each year even as it reduces annual spending to below $16 billion, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ryan Lance told investors today. ConocoPhillips plans to scale back drilling in emerging oil regions such as West Texas and the Rocky Mountains . The company’s ability to produce oil at lower costs in more established areas that have fueled the U.S. shale boom make growth sustainable. ConocoPhillips (COP) could also reduce exploration spending, he said. “Events like the recent price downturn underscore the importance of staying focused on the fundamentals,” Lance said. “We know this is a cyclical business, and we’ve been here before.” […]