Biggest Nordic Bank Predicts Oil Industry Losses Through 2017

  • Will take time for stability to return to oil and offshore
  • In close dialog with customers on securing long-term funding

The Norwegian unit of Nordea Bank AB says its clients in the oil industry face several “tough years ahead” as petroleum prices fail to recover to anywhere near pre-crisis levels.

“There’s still a fall within exploration and production,” Snorre Storset, the chief executive officer of Nordea Norway, said in an interview in Oslo on Wednesday. “There’s a bigger uncertainty surrounding this. It will take time before it gets stable again within oil and offshore. We think we will have losses in 2016 or in 2017, which we now start to take into account.”

Norway, western Europe’s biggest oil exporter, has struggled to adjust to lower energy prices. More than 30,000 industry workers have lost their jobs and there has been a wave of debt defaults for companies that service the oil producers. Though Brent crude has recovered from a January low of about $27 a barrel, its current price of $46 is still some 60 percent below a 2014 peak of $115.

Nordea, the biggest lender in the Nordic region, said net loan losses across the bank rose 23 percent last quarter to 127 million euros ($140 million). Most of that was due to non-payment of loans to the oil and offshore industry. The bank’s forecast for all of 2016 implies an increase in writedowns in the second half of the year, Storset said.

“We’re in close dialog with our customers on how to secure long-term financing for them,” he said. “We want to make sure they can make it even if it’s a long period where it continues to be as today.”

DNB ASA, Norway’s largest bank, last week reported loan losses for the second quarter that more than tripled due to increased impairment losses related to the oil industry. The bank raised its outlook for loan losses for this year, even as it kept a forecast for losses over the next three years.

More debt restructuring is likely amid an overcapacity in vessels and a worsening of companies’ ability to pay their debt. Companies, such as offshore driller Seadrill Ltd., are in debt negotiations involving shareholders, bondholders and lenders.

“It’s difficult to be exact,” Storset said. “A lot of these processes is that you either lose your money or you don’t lose at all.”

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