Despite the hope for a rebound in oil prices in 2017, new reports say Royal Dutch Shell, is looking towards reducing its spending in the year due to the huge debts it has to settle.
Analysts have said oil prices will hit at least $60 per barrel in the first quarter of 2017.
However, even as other oil majors hope for high spending and drilling, assets diversification upstream and downstream, including spreading out across the globe in the year due to hope of more income, Shell will be taking its spending and investments in bits.
The company spent more than $50 billion on BG Group in 2016. Even at that, its debt profile has boomed from $78 billion much more than other oil majors. This is 40 percent more than the $46.2 billion debt that ExxonMobil reported at the third quarter of 2016. Shell’s ratio of debt to equity, topped 29 percent, also higher than its peers.
Yet, the company is optimistic that the money it paid to acquire BG Group, would eventually payoff and calm he minds of its investors in the year. Acquiring BG has made it one of the largest exporters of Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG, in the world. Shell took the risk into its debt to become the dominant gas supply, a step that company executives believe would “payoff” in years to come.
According to experts, given few years to come, gas will become more relevant than oil in the global market.
However, as Shell is very sure the BG deal would boom in the nearest future, analyst say the company will have to “tighten its belt” before then. “Even before the purchase of BG Group, Shell had laid out a multiyear divestment program in order to pay down debt. The $50 billion price tag for BG Group has put a much greater urgency on cutting costs, shrinking its footprint, and selling off assets to raise cash. Shell is in the midst of a three-year, $30 billion divestment scheme that runs from 2016 to 2018, but the pace of asset disposal is running behind the company’s targets”, according to Nick Cunnigngham.
Shell only sold off $5 billion in assets in 2016, a bit lower than the $6 to $8 billion it had hoped for, Wall Street Journal reported.
Despite the worry on shareholders faces, Shell said its dividend will not change.
“Shell’s high net debt and the slow progress against its divestment plan are the last major concerns for investors, with the view that it remains the key risk for a dividend cut,” Sanford C. Bernstein, a research firm, wrote in a recent note to clients.
The company has also insisted that it would meet its divestment targets. This signals hope that asset sales could start this year. Shell has oil and gas producing assets across the world that it had put up for sale, including in New Zealand, Iraq, Thailand, Gabon and the UK’s North Sea.
Analysts have said that despite the fact that there is hope oil prices would continue to rise in 2017, not all the oil companies will use the money to pursue growth or step up drilling activity, this confirms reports that companies are still in doubt of investing just yet.