OPEC overproduction, China’s slowdown and the reintroduction of Iran to the oil market are the issues weighing heaviest on the minds of oil industry executives, a new study has revealed.
Research by law firm Clyde & Co shows that “OPEC policy is the single most important geo-political factor affecting oil and gas businesses today”, with its determining of supply volumes having a huge impact on prices. Three-quarters of all respondents nominated OPEC as being the primary issue.
Meanwhile, concerns over the Chinese slowdown provides a headache for 50% of those surveyed, who were chosen from producers, explorers, financiers and traders around the world. Despite China’s declining heavy industries, the country has still been hoovering up oil at its deflated price, but demand is still insufficient to buoy the price.
A senior commodities banker in Asia told GTR that their outlook on oil remains poor and that, along with many banks in the region, it has been actively removing smaller companies in the sector from their balance sheet.
Most small companies borrow on a short-term, uncommitted basis and so scratching them off is easy, our source says. But big producers remain important clients.
CP Loo, the managing director of Malaysian oil trader Synergy Energy Labuan, says that he has experienced a distinct cooling of interest from international banks, with local banks taking up more of a senior role in lending. However, he tells GTR that demand from China had remained constant for his firm, even as the oil price continued to disappoint.
That said, there are still scores of oil tankers floating around Asian waters waiting for the price to increase. This is likely to be the cargo of larger companies, who can better afford to ride out the storm.
In response to the poor market outlook, more than half of those surveyed said they were considering cancelling projects, which would further hit a market which has been devastated by the slowdown.
In January, oil and gas consultancy Wood Mackenzie estimated that US$380bn of projects had been cancelled since 2014. In 2015, the firm says 68 major projects were cancelled, which would have brought 27 billion barrels of oil onto the market.
However, the lack of new production should eventually filter through to the oil price. The firm predicted more cuts in 2016.
One area of light for contractors may be the situation in Iran. While surplus crude from the Gulf state will drive prices down further, its ageing infrastructure requires US$200bn of investment over the next five years.
Other intra-industry concerns are related to payments and insolvencies. The vast majority of those quizzed said they were worried about the breaking of contracts for offtake, while a similar number were concerned over partners going bankrupt.