The wave of oil industry spending cuts continues, with the majors now announcing significant reductions to spending as oil remains stuck in the $20s. Royal Dutch Shell said on Monday that it would cut spending by 20 percent, or about $5 billion, and also suspend its share buyback plan. French oil giant Total SA and Norway’s Equinor announced similar moves.
ExxonMobil and Chevron have suggested they too would be axing their budgets, with Exxon under particular pressure. Goldman Sachs estimates that Chevron needs $50 per barrel in order to cover spending and its dividend. ExxonMobil, on the other hand, needs something like $70.
The majors are relatively more insulated from the downturn than small and medium-sized shale drillers because they have downstream refining and petrochemical assets that have typically performed somewhat better than upstream units when prices fall. Refineries, for instance, spend less on oil during the downturn, and low prices also translate into a boost in sales of refined products.