Real Oil Prices Fall to Lowest Level Since May 2005; Capital Spending on Well, Refineries Slashed
AP -- By midday in Europe, light, sweet crude for January delivery was down 71 cents to $48.57 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier in the session, prices briefly fell to $47.36, the lowest since 2005.
Business Week -- When oil prices surged over the last two years to $147 a barrel, they generated a flood of energy projects previously regarded as prohibitively expensive. But now a plunge in prices to a three-year low of about $50 is having the opposite impact. From Canada, to Russia, to Saudi Arabia, and Thailand, oil companies are slashing planned capital spending on wells and refineries—the energy infrastructure the world still depends on.
In a Nov. 19 report, Morgan Stanley lists 17 specific energy projects that have been delayed or canceled since October alone, in addition to across-the-board capital-spending cuts by a dozen companies. Most Big Oil corporations have yet to announce any cutbacks, but they are expected to do so. Credit Suisse (CS) sees a 5%-to-10% drop in the $342 billion in capital spending planned for 2009 by the 26 largest global integrated oil companies, including national producers such as Saudi Aramco and Gazprom. Some predict worse.
Among the hardest-hit regions is Alberta. Its tar-rich sands are estimated to hold about 175 billion barrels of oil, second in volume only to Saudi Arabia's reserves. Although oil sand is among the most expensive kinds of petroleum on the planet to extract, these projects would be profitable at $85 to $95 a barrel, a level surpassed in the price surge earlier this year. But now nearly every major oil sand development has been put on hold, including expansions planned by Royal Dutch Shell and Suncor Energy. Elsewhere in the global oil patch, expansion of a giant Kazakhstan gas field has been postponed, and construction of the critical Yanbu refinery in Saudi Arabia has been delayed.