Mar 23, 2020 - Energy & Environment

When pumping oil stops making sense

Oil rig against an orange sky.

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Consulting firm Wood Mackenzie has tried to put some numbers around how much global production no longer makes economic sense now.

What they found: Their analysis explores the economics of currently producing assets worldwide.

  • When Brent crude prices fall to $35-per-barrel, revenue from about 4 million barrels per day of output doesn't cover costs and governments' share.
  • When they drop to $25, it means about 10 million barrels per day, or about 10% of global production, falls below that threshold.
  • Prices are now in the $26 per barrel range.

Why it matters: "If prices do not rebound quickly, we’ll see a significant impact on currently producing fields and future supply," they note.

The big picture: Regardless of the exact price movements, there are lots of uncertainties ahead, which means...

  • "Large new projects will be put on hold and short-cycle discretionary investment will be dialed back to the bare minimum. Spend on projects under development and onstream will also be targeted."
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