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Wood Mackenzie: Russia's energy players resilient

Producers are expected to stay competitive even if oil prices stay low.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Russian energy companies should be able to remain competitive in the weakened crude oil market, Wood Mackenzie finds. Photo by DyMax/Shutterstock
Russian energy companies should be able to remain competitive in the weakened crude oil market, Wood Mackenzie finds. Photo by DyMax/Shutterstock

EDINBURGH, Scotland, July 16 (UPI) -- Consultant group Wood Mackenzie said Thursday oil and gas companies in Russia are suited well to withstand any protracted slump in the crude oil market.

Crude oil prices starting in June 2014 began a steady decline, dropping from levels above the $100 per barrel mark to below $50 per barrel in early 2015. This year in June, Russian Minister for Economic Development Alexei Ulyukayev said "the oil market has attained certain stability."

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Analysis from Wood Mackenzie finds oil and gas producers in Russia break even near $60 per barrel.

"Costs are largely ruble denominated and among the lowest in the world, underpinned by vast conventional domestic legacy production; and the ruble devaluation has cushioned the negative effect from the fall in oil prices," Wood Mackenzie research director Valentina Kretzschmar said in a statement. "This combination will help Russian producers stay competitive even if oil prices remain low."

Russia's currency plummeted in value early in 2015 as the low price of crude oil put pressure on an economy targeted by Western sanctions imposed in response to the Kremlin's position on crises in Ukraine.

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Russia's currency is valued at 56.7 per U.S. Dollar. Brent crude oil prices were around $57.

The ruble had reached a 62-1 exchange earlier this year. Russian energy company Gazprom blamed heavy losses in 2014 on the appreciation of the U.S. dollar and euro against the ruble

The World Bank in December said it expected Russia's real gross domestic product should contract by 0.7 percent. That forecast was based on oil priced at $78 per barrel.

Kretzschmar said Russian energy companies were hit harder than their peers by market factors because of sanctions. Some companies, like oil producer Rosneft, were cut off from western markets because of sanctions.

"But the slight rebound in oil prices this year, stronger Russian ruble and higher dividend yields, have led to stronger performance within the industry peer group in the recent months," she said.

Looking ahead, Wood Mackenzie expects Russian companies will need to pursue emerging energy sectors, like frontier developments and liquefied natural gas, and expand into non-Western markets to endure what's expected to be a sustained decline in the crude oil market.

"The sanctions imposed on Russia are pushing its majors abroad to new resource bases in Latin America, Africa and Asia - with most of the global hotspots still open for business with Russia," she said.

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The Kremlin has said it would strengthen its energy focus in Asia, where expanding economies are taking on more energy reserves.

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