ConocoPhillips, the largest US independent oil and gas company, reported a quarterly profit that just beat Wall Street expectations, helped by a bigger-than-expected increase in oil and gas production.ConocoPhillips, like many other oil and gas companies, is drilling more in US shale fields where wells bring better profits and steady production growth is easier to achieve. For example Conoco's production in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas and the Bakken Shale in North Dakota rose 38 per cent in the second quarter.Income totaled $2.08 billion, or $1.67 per share, compared with $2.05 billion, or $1.65 per share in the year-ago period.Excluding one-time items, Conoco's profit was $1.61 per share. Analysts, on average, expected $1.60, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S."Conoco posted a clean operational beat with higher production and in-line margin performance," Wells Fargo analyst Roger Read said in a note to clients. "In spite of the beat, we take a neutral stance, as natural gas drove the out-performance." The Houston company's oil and natural gas output from continuing operations was 1.56 million barrels oil equivalent per day (boed) in the quarter, up from 1.51 million boed a year earlier.