Oil and Gas Capital Spending Cuts Much Larger Than Production Cuts

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Small and midsize oil and gas producers are expected to reduce production by about 1% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2015. Capital spending is expected to be 41% below 2014 levels.

The data were included in a report by RBN Energy published on the firm’s blog Wednesday morning. Among the companies represented in the small and medium-sized group are Continental Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLR), Concho Resources Inc. (NYSE: CXO) and Pioneer Natural Resources Co. (NYSE: PXD).

In 2014, Continental’s actual capital spending totaled $4.53 billion. In the first quarter of this year, the company forecast 2015 spending at $2.7 billion (down 40%), a number the company has not changed so far this year. However, Continental’s estimated production for 2015 is forecast to fall by just 3% to just under 215,000 barrels a day this year.

Concho expects production to remain essentially flat at around 144,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, but forecasts capital expenditure (capex) spending down 33% from about $2.55 billion in 2014 to $1.7 billion this year.

Pioneer spent $3.48 billion on capital projects last year and originally cut its 2015 forecast to $1.6 billion, a 54% drop. At the end of the third quarter, the company raised its projected capex budget to $1.95 billion, a drop of 44%. Production is expected to rise 7% to around 214,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

The analysts also took a look at larger players and companies more heavily weighted to natural gas production.

Here is RBN Energy’s takeaway:

[W]e are not expecting a serious change in activity levels in the industry. These companies are estimating a 1% decline in oil and gas production for 2016.

In summary, it does not appear that today’s punishingly low crude and gas prices [have] yet to materially discourage oil and gas production in the major shale plays.

Sounds about right to us, and worth keeping in mind as you watch crude prices bounce higher from time to time.

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