Oil Price Rout Seen as Threat to $1.5 Trillion of New Projects

  • New investments uneconomic at $50/bbl, Wood Mackenzie says
  • Operators seeking to reduce costs by an average 20-30%

About $1.5 trillion of potential investment in new oil projects isn’t viable with crude prices at $50 a barrel, highlighting the need to reduce costs, according to consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd.

The proposed projects, including spending on North American shale, are “now out of the money, or in starker terms, uneconomic at $50 oil,” James Webb, upstream research manager at Wood Mackenzie, said in a statement Monday. “This spend is very much at risk.”

While operators want to cut costs by 20 percent to 30 percent on new projects, supply-chain savings will only achieve cuts of 10 percent to 15 percent on average, according to Wood Mackenzie.

A drop of about 50 percent in crude prices over the past year has forced oil companies to cut spending and defer new projects. Brent, the benchmark for half the world’s oil, was trading at $47.78 a barrel, up 31 cents, at 1:06 p.m. in Sydney. A glut may keep oil prices low for the next 15 years, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

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