Image courtesy of peasap/Flickr.

Upstream budget cuts and debt obligations could cause a $2 trillion funding gap in the next several years, according to a new report from Deloitte.

The report, published earlier this week, found that the global upstream industry is facing a $2 trillion funding gap over the next five years as budget cuts, dividends and debt payments erode cash flows.

According to the report, about $590 billion of the global upstream industry’s debt will mature over the next five years while shareholders are projected to receive about $600 billion in payouts.

Those payments will push the total cash-flow obligations of integrated oil companies, listed national oil companies and independent E&P companies to more than $4 trillion from 2016 to 2020.

However, if oil prices average $55 per barrel during that period, estimated cash inflow will only hit $2 trillion, leaving a $2 trillion funding gap.

“Correcting balance sheets and maintaining the already reduced payouts will most likely be a top priority, leaving far less cash available for capex over the next five years,” Deloitte said.

Deloitte estimates that, even with weak demand and a reduced cost outlook, the global upstream industry will need to invest at least $3 trillion from 2015 to 2016 to ensure long-term sustainability.

The report said that announced and actual capital expenditure cuts have “gone below the minimum required levels to offset depletion, let alone meet any expected growth.”

The global crude and natural gas industry cut its capital spending for 2015 and 2016 by about 50 percent.

Last year, cost cuts and investment reductions dragged the number of conventional oil and gas discoveries outside of North America to their lowest level since 1952, the report said.

“This lower-for-longer price environment will challenge E&P companies to achieve full reserve replacement, especially considering capex is not their only priority,” Deloitte said.

Natural gas is likely to require more investment than oil due to large-scale exploitation of reserves, a reallocation of capital to oil and a large unmet demand potential being driven by the Asia-Pacific region.

Deloitte said that the emphasis placed on development over the last decade and a dip in the number of new discoveries will require upstreams to boost the share of capex spent on natural gas exploration to about 20 percent by 2020.

“Although technology and innovation may again come to the rescue of the industry, the key is to manage capital and tailor business models to the new normal of lower for longer,” the report said.


Leave a Reply