A group of 44 US oil and gas drillers will need to cut their capital budgets by an additional 30% to balance their lowered income, according to an analysis by IHS Inc., cited by Bloomberg. Based on IHS’s low-case price scenario, if crude rises to $40 a barrel and gas is traded for $2.50 per 1mcf, US exploration and production companies’ spending on capital projects will likely drop to $78b in total this year, down from $101b in 2015. As a result, the companies will need to cut about $24b to get their spending in line with a historical 130% ratio of spending to cash flow.
The collapse in crude prices led US energy firms to cut oil rigs to the lowest levels since March 2010 and continue slashing spending. The total rig count has been brought down to 467, compared with 1,140 oil rigs operating in 2015, oil services company Baker Hughes Inc said in a report, according to Reuters. Previously, it was reported that the number of working US oil rigs has dropped 71% from its peak in October 2014, to its lowest level in almost six years, the Financial Times wrote.
Exxon Mobil Corp joined a slew of oil companies in cutting spending and it expects to cut worldwide capital and exploration expenditures by 25% this year. The third-largest US natural gas producer, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, cut its spending plans by almost 50% to $2.8b in 2016, Reuters wrote.
Meanwhile, West Texas Intermediate for March delivery dropped to $29.98 a barrel and crude prices are expected to average $41.13 this year, according to the median of 26 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
US crude oil production averaged about 9.4mb/d in 2015 and was forecast to average 8.7mb/d in 2016 and 8.5mb/d in 2017, according to the latest US Energy Information Administration’s Short-Term Energy Outlook.