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Oil company shares slumped

OPEC’s decision on Thursday not to cut production in order to prop up oil prices sent markets reeling. Oil company shares slumped, wiping billions off firms’ market value… As they come to terms with the new oil regime, companies will cut spending by up to 10 percent in 2015… and delay new project approvals.

LONDON, Nov 28 (Reuters) – With oil company revenues set to drop on the back of a rout in prices, boards will have to cut investments and increase borrowing to maintain their cherished dividend payouts.

OPEC’s decision on Thursday not to cut production in order to prop up oil prices sent markets reeling. Oil company shares slumped, wiping billions off firms’ market value and leaving dividend payouts as the only solace for shareholders.

The world’s top oil companies, or majors, including BP , Royal Dutch Shell, Total, ExxonMobil and Chevron are already in the midst of a painful belt-tightening process.

The majors have hacked back spending and sold assets worth around $150 billion over the past four years, increasingly relying on that income to reward shareholders.

COST CUTTING

As they come to terms with the new oil regime, companies will cut spending by up to 10 percent in 2015… and delay new project approvals.

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REUTERS: Billions wiped off energy shares as investors rush for exit

Extracts

LONDON (Reuters) – A fresh slide in the price of crude wiped tens of billions of dollars off oil companies’ market value on Friday and signalled an end to the sector’s safe-haven status, as fears mounted over future profits and dividend payouts.

Fund managers described the last 24 hours of trading as “capitulation” – the point at which a sell-off becomes widespread and panic-driven – as investors reassessed whether the sector could keep gushing cash after OPEC’s decision not to cut oil production to fight a supply glut.

“Oil stocks are currently in the final phase of capitulation,” said UniCredit strategist Christian Stocker.

Oil prices have been sliding for months, but the pain has mostly been felt by oil-services suppliers rather than majors like Royal Dutch Shell or Total. Investors maintained some faith in them based on their record of paying reliable dividends. That faith appeared to erode on Friday, when $33 billion in market capitalisation was wiped off the sector in Europe. Norway’s Statoil fell 8.2 percent, BP 3.7 percent and Shell 3.3 percent.

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New York Times: Free Fall in Oil Price Underscores Shift Away From OPEC

HOUSTON — Since the economically crippling oil embargo of 1973, every American president has pledged to seek and achieve energy independence.

That elusive goal may finally have arrived, at least for the foreseeable future, with the failure of Saudi Arabia and its 11 oil cartel partners in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to agree to a production cut that would put a brake on plummeting crude prices.

On Friday, the benchmark American price for crude oil continued the free fall that began on Thursday, closing at $66.15, its lowest price in more than four years.

The inability or unwillingness of OPEC to act showed that the cartel was no longer the dominating producer whose decisions determine global supplies and prices. Suddenly, the United States — which is poised to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s top producer, possibly in a matter of months — is in that position, although the resiliency of that new command must still be tested.

“This is a historic turning point,” said Daniel Yergin, the energy historian. “The defining force now in world oil today is the growth of U.S. production. The outcome of the OPEC meeting is a clear indication that the oil exporters now recognize that this is a new market.”

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