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Despite cuts, oil giants look to expand production

 

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Ben Chapman: 6 Sept 2016

Never mind the drop in crude prices, huge spending cuts and thousands of job losses, the world’s top oil and gas companies are set to produce more than ever for some time.

While top oil companies struggle with slumping revenues following a price rout after years of spectacular growth, their production has grown as projects sanctioned earlier in the decade come on line. Overall production at the world’s seven biggest oil and gas companies is set to rise by around 9 per cent between 2015 and 2018, according to analysts’ estimates.

With an expected recovery in prices, the increased production should boost cash flow and secure generous dividend payouts, which had forced companies to double borrowing throughout the downturn.

“There are a lot of projects coming on stream over the next three years that will support cash flow and ultimately dividend,” Barclays analyst Lydia Rainforth said.

And despite a drop in new project approvals, companies have throughout the downturn cleared a number of mammoth undertakings such as Statoil’s Johan Sverdrop oilfield off Norway and Eni’s Zohr gas development off the Egyptian coast.

Others opted to acquire new production, such as Royal Dutch Shell, which bought smaller rival BG Group for £40.51bn this year, and Exxon Mobil through investments in Papua New Guinea and Mozambique.

Shell is expected to see the strongest growth among its peers over the next two years at 8 per cent, according to BMO Capital Markets.

Production is unlikely to drop after 2020, and could post modest growth as companies continue to bring projects onstream, albeit at a slower pace, BMO analyst Brendan Warn said.

Reuters

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