Oil Drillers Must Slash Another $24 Billion This Year, IHS Says

Are Low Oil Prices Here to Stay?
  • Analysis is based on IHS’s low-case price scenario of $40 oil
  • Examined $78 billion of plans at 44 North American producers

North American oil and natural gas drillers will need to cut an additional 30 percent from their capital budgets to balance their spending with the cash coming in their doors even if crude rises to $40 a barrel, according to an analysis by IHS Inc.

A group of 44 North American exploration and production companies are planning to spend $78 billion on capital projects this year, down from $101 billion last year. Those companies need to cut another $24 billion this year to get their spending in line with a historical 130 percent ratio of spending to cash flow, IHS said Monday.

“These spending cuts will be particularly troublesome for the highly leveraged companies,” said Paul O’Donnell, principal analyst at IHS Energy. “These E&Ps are torn between slashing spending further to avoid additional weakening of their balance sheets, and the need to maintain sufficient production and cash flow to meet financial obligations.”

QuickTake Price of Oil

The analysis is based on IHS’s low-case price scenario of $40-a-barrel oil and $2.50-per-million-cubic-feet natural gas prices. IHS cited Concho Resources Inc., Whiting Petroleum Corp., WPX Energy Inc., and PDC Energy Inc. as examples of companies displaying the best spending discipline.

West Texas Intermediate for March delivery dropped 91 cents, or 3 percent, to $29.98 a barrel at 1:29 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude prices are expected to average $41.13 this year, according to the median of 26 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

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