France's Total slashes investment amid oil price collapse

GMT 15:27 2016 Friday ,12 February

Arab Today, arab today France's Total slashes investment amid oil price collapse

Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne
Paris - AFP

French oil company Total said Thursday it had cut its investment target this year as it steps up efforts to drastically cut costs to counter a global collapse in oil prices.

Total said it would invest up to two billion dollars less in 2016 than originally planned, as it, like other oil giants, grapples with weak oil prices that have slumped around 70 percent since mid-2014 due to chronic oversupply and on Thursday got close to 13-year lows.

It will now invest only $19 billion compared to its earlier plan for 20-21 billion, and down from the 23 billion it ploughed into investments in 2015, it said in a statement.

From 2017, the figure will then fall to 17-19 billion.

"We have to be good on what we can control, our expenses. So we are going to continue to make efforts to control our expenses," chief executive Patrick Pouyanne told reporters.

Total shares closed 3.3 percent lower on the Paris stock exchange, but still outperformed the wider Paris stock market, which ended down 4.1 percent.

World oil prices tumbled once more Thursday, nearing a 13-year low, with no end in sight to the global supply glut.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in March hit $26.32 a barrel, close to a 13-year low of under $26.

"It's quite a crisis that this industry is facing," Pouyanne said later Thursday at the International Petroleum week in London.

But he also sounded an upbeat note on the direction of oil prices, saying "I think that the price will be higher at the end of the year 2016 than it is today."

Total said it would also bolster operating cost reductions, which it planned this year would amount to $2.4 billion, up from $1.5 billion last year.

This would principally be in its upstream exploration activities, with the cut again rising to $3.0 billion in 2017, it added.

And its exploration budget, which was already slashed by around a third last year, will face further trimming by more than 20 percent to $1.5 billion, it said.

A hiring freeze will also continue, Pouyanne said without giving a figure.

Headline net profit jumped 20 percent to $5.1 billion in 2015 but Total said its adjusted net profit, excluding the impact of the company's own oil stocks, fell by 18 percent.


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