Reino Unido – The Daily Telegraph – 02/06/2009
Brazilian and Chinese state oil firms are boosting investment even as their western independent competitors cut expenditure in light of lower demand, according to an Ernst and Young study.
Just one of the big international oil “majors”, Chevron, has increased capital expenditure this year over last year, the study found. Repsol, Total and Exxonmobil had held spending steady but others including ConocoPhillips, BP and Royal Dutch Shell had all made significant cuts.
But thanks to nationalised oil companies around the world overall expenditure has remained stable at $375bn (£228bn) this year, the report said.
There has been widespread concern that the sudden drop in oil prices over the last ten months would lead to big falls in investment in new fields, leading to shortfalls in supply and new price surges if and when economic recovery takes hold.
Key were the state firms of Brazil and China, the report said, speeding a trend in favour of emerging economy producers that was already under way.
“If you look at what China is now spending that’s a continuation of what’s been happening for years,” said the report’s author, Andy Brogan, Ernst and Young’s global oil and gas transaction advisory services leader.
“In terms of the biggest spenders China is right up there. Petrochina is the oil company in the world based on market capitalisation right now.”
Petrochina is just one of three big state-owned Chinese oil groups. They are continuing to exploit China’s own oil fields but much of their energy is spent trying to secure supplies from abroad, signing takeover, finance, development and servicing deals with countries from Kazakhstan to Venezuela.
Petrobras, by contrast, is mainly focused on developing Brazil’s own growing production base.
Mr Brogan said there was still a risk that investment would fall off, leading to future shortages. Much would depend on announcements later this year, but most firms were being “responsible” and looking to the long term.
The oil price has in any case recovered to around $67 from lows of $33 a barrel at the end of last year.
The report said that with the fall in oil prices countries might be seeking new partnerships once again, if only to raise capital.