Long vs. Short Term

ExxonMobil’s latest long-term energy outlook paints a generally robust picture for oil and natural gas despite the steep fall in hydrocarbon prices and cuts in capital spending. The outlook predicts that the oil and gas share of the energy market will grow and that renewable energy sources will remain only a small share of the total picture.

Oil will continue to be the world’s largest energy source, with demand for oil and other liquids growing by 20% from 2014 to 2040, according to ExxonMobil’s The Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040. Coal, which is currently the globe’s second-largest fuel, will decline from providing 25% to 20% of total energy demand as industry uses more fuels with lower CO2 emissions. Natural gas use will increase as it replaces coal as second in consumption.

The outlook belies shorter-term predictions for the oil and gas market, which continue to forecast a tough year ahead. IHS CERA believes North American independents will need further capital spending cuts to align spending with cash flow. An analysis of 44 North American E&P companies shows that those firms need to cut spending by another USD 24 billion, or 30%, to maintain a healthy fiscal balance. E&P companies cut their 2016 spending budgets sharply from the previous year, but the price of oil has fallen sharply since the fourth quarter of 2015.

Consultancy Wood Mackenzie predicts “another volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous year” with only the most robust or strategically important projects going forward. It projects that exploration spending will be only half of its 2014 peak. The lack of new investment and aging, high-cost fields in some regions will be a challenge for operators, but there are some bright spots for potential investment, especially offshore Mexico and Iran.

Wood Mackenzie offered several predictions and milestones to watch for during the rest of the year.

  • “Meaningful” increases in production from Iran are not likely as the country offers new contract terms for upstream projects. Crude exports should increase to about 400,000 B/D as shut-in wells are brought back on stream. Saudi Arabia will maintain current production levels so as not to lose market share to Iran.
  • Declines in spending will hit Africa hard. Output will stagnate in Angola and Nigeria due to its aging fields, high production costs, and lack of investment. North Sea activity also will decline because of lower spending. Rationalization is likely as well as merger and acquisition interest. But production in Russia will maintain current levels of 10.7 million B/D despite the drop in oil prices.
  • In North America, the inventory of drilled but uncompleted wells is at an all-time high. Wood Mackenzie predicts that the draw down on these wells will remain flat compared with 2015 through the first part of this year but will increase significantly in the second half. US Gulf of Mexico deepwater production will reach a new high with an additional 250,000 BOE/D coming on line. This reflects projects that have been in development for years.
  • Mexico’s deepwater bidding round of 10 blocks primarily in the Perdido fold belt will be successful. The acreage prospectivity and favorable contract terms will contribute to its most successful bid round to date.

Long vs. Short Term

John Donnelly, JPT Editor

01 March 2016

Volume: 68 | Issue: 3


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