HOUSTON -(Dow Jones)- Hess Corp. (HES) aims to double its production in the oil-rich Bakken Shale in North Dakota in 2011 as it invests a significant portion of its capital budget there, company executives said Wednesday.

Hess will invest $1.8 billion--about one third of its entire capital budget program--in 2011 to bring production in the Bakken to an average of 40,000 a day in 2011, Hess's head of exploration and production Greg Hill said in a conference call with analysts.

"We exited the year [2010] at 20,000 barrels of oil equivalent," Hill said.

Hess CEO John Hess said the company's production will average 415,000 to 425,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day in crude and gas. The company produced about 418,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day on average in 2010.

Hill said that the Sabia-1 well in offshore Brazil encountered "noncommercial quantities of oil," prompting the company to write off the cost of drilling. It is the second dry hole Hess encounters in the area, which contains some of Brazil's richest oil deposits.

The executive added that it is conducting research about unconventional oil and gas plays in China in cooperation with Chinese oil company Sinopec. "Last week we signed two joint study agreements with Sinopec," Hill said.

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