Statoil cuts spending to prepare for rebound

Company says it can realize growth once oil prices recover toward $50 per barrel.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Feb. 4, 2016 at 7:39 AM
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STAVANGER, Norway, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Norwegian energy company Statoil said Thursday it was cutting spending for the year in an effort to position its portfolio for growth once the market recovers.

The company outlined a capital spending plan for 2016 of around $13 billion, down about 11 percent from last year. Earnings for the fourth quarter were down 44 percent year-on-year to $1.75 billion.

President and CEO Eldar Saetre said fourth quarter results were largely a reflection of lower crude oil prices. The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, is down more than 25 percent from the start of the fourth quarter.

"We are now further stepping up our improvement program, and tightening our capital and exploration expenditures," he said in a statement. "These are key elements in navigating the business during a period of low oil prices."

The company was one of the few reporting a decline in output, saying equity production during the fourth quarter was down 3 percent year-on-year. Exploration expenses, meanwhile, were lower by 44 percent

Statoil is betting on output in part on production from the Johan Sverdrup field off the Norwegian coast, which could generate $200 billion in revenues over the next 50 years. Within the next two years, the company expects production to grow by as much as 4 percent.

"Statoil is well positioned to capture value from an expected upturn in the market," Saetre said. "More than 80 percent of the operated projects, with start-up by 2022, have a break-even oil price below $50 per barrel."

Brent was trading at around $35 per barrel in volatile trading early Thursday.

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