Mar 23, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Oil giants announce steep cutbacks

Photo: Karol Serewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Royal Dutch Shell and Total this morning announced plans to sharply cut spending and freeze share buyback plans.

Why it matters: The moves signal how cratering demand from COVID-19 and the collapse in prices are upending the outlooks for companies large and small.

Driving the news: Shell is cutting planned capital spending this year to $20 billion or lower, compared to the pre-crisis estimate of $25 billion.

  • It also plans to cut operating costs by $3 billion to $4 billion over the next 12 months.

Meanwhile, Total said oil at $30 per barrel means a roughly $3 billion hit to capital spending, which means a new target of under $15 billion this year.

  • The France-based multinational also said it can save $800 million in operating costs compared to 2019.
  • They're just the latest in a string of oil companies — including ExxonMobil and a number of independent U.S. shale producers — to unveil deep cuts of late.

Go deeper: Coronavirus could lead to a wave of defaults for oil companies

Go deeper

The fallout from oil's collapse

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

ExxonMobil, citing an "unprecedented environment," said last night that it plans to "significantly" cut spending in light of the coronavirus and the collapse in oil prices.

Why it matters: The oil giant's announcement is the latest sign of how deeply the upended market is affecting the sector.

Saudi Aramco announces spending cut amid coronavirus pandemic

Amin Nasser, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco. Photo: -/AFP via Getty Images

Saudi Aramco plans to cut 2020 spending by billions of dollars below last year's levels as the spread of the novel coronavirus craters global oil consumption and pushes down prices.

Why it matters: Aramco is the world's largest oil-producing company. Sunday's announcement underscores how COVID-19 and the oil market's upheaval is affecting the energy landscape.

Oil plunges and industry pain spreads

Photo: Carsten Rehder/picture alliance via Getty Images

This morning is bringing fresh and stark signs of how economic contraction from COVID-19 is crushing the oil market and forcing companies to cut back.

The big picture: The price collapse stems from COVID-19 freezing a significant amount of travel and economic activity, and the collapse of the Saudi-Russia agreement to limit production.