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KUALA LUMPUR: Oil and gas (O&G) companies are expected to increase their capital expenditure (capex) programme in 2021, if crude oil prices stay between US$60 and US$70 per barrel (US$1= RM4.13), according to Moody's Investors Service.
Moody’s corporate finance group analyst Sim Hui Ting said that with more O&G companies revising their capex programmes upwards due to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, it would lead to higher profitability for oil field services companies.
"If prices were to linger around the lower end of the US$60-US$70 per barrel range, companies will be hesitant to increase their capex significantly from 2020.
"But looking at the current prices, we do think that companies will start to look at their capex programme and see if there were any scope for them to increase what they have planned for in 2020,” she said at Moody’s Inside ASEAN Series’ Media Roundtable today.
Taking Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) for example, Sim said Moody’s projected the O&G giant to allocate a higher capex of between RM40 billion and RM45 billion in 2021, versus RM33 billion in 2020, due to improved crude oil prices.
In February this year, Petronas had announced that its capex allocation would be reduced to RM40 billion to RM45 billion per annum for the next five years due to the projected global oil prices and industry outlook in the coming five years.
Previously, the company had earmarked RM50 billion to RM60 billion annually for capex.
Meanwhile, Moody’s corporate finance group associate managing director Vikas Halan anticipated that prospects for the O&G sector remain weak due to the capex cuts in 2020, and oilfield services companies had "never really” recovered from the 2016 oil price crash.
"This round of cuts (of capex in 2020) is adding further (pressure on the price),” he said.
Moving forward, he expects that energy transition, such as solar power and offshore wind farm installations, would add more burden on the O&G sector, as new fields would not be explored to the extent as they had been in the past.
"The prospects for services companies continue to be weak,” he added. - Bernama