Oil prices will likely be below $70 per barrel this year, as growing US onshore production, as well as rising production from conventional fields, will keep a lid on prices, Statoil’s chief executive Eldar Sætre told Reuters on Wednesday.
“I think we will most likely be below $70 a barrel,” Sætre told Reuters, commenting on his expectations for oil prices this year.
Earlier today, Statoil reported fourth-quarter results beating analyst expectations and proposed to increase the dividend by 4.5 percent to US$0.23 per share. Statoil’s adjusted earnings increased to US$4 billion in Q4 2017 from US$1.7 billion in Q4 2016, and ahead of analyst expectations of US$3.81 billion.
Apart from deciding to lift the dividend, Statoil also ended—as planned—its scrip dividend program in the third quarter of 2017, joining other oil majors like BP and Shell who also ended their scrip plans under which shareholders could choose to be paid in shares instead of in cash.
“We expect to increase returns and can deliver 12 billion dollars in free cash flow from 2018 to 2020,” Sætre said in Statoil’s Capital markets update today.
“We have radically improved our next generation portfolio, and Johan Sverdrup phase 1, has now a break-even below 15 dollars per barrel. We will profitably grow production, strengthen our balance sheet, and increase the cash dividend”, Sætre said.
Statoil expects to drill around 40 exploration wells in 2018 with an expected spend of around US$1.5 billion.
Apart from the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS)—which will continue to be the backbone of Norway’s oil giant’s operations—Statoil will also place an emphasis on world-class assets abroad in the coming years, including the Carcara block offshore Brazil, in which Statoil is a partner with ExxonMobil and Portugal’s Galp.
By 2020, appraisal and exploration will be carried out in the Carcara light oil pre-salt discovery, which currently has estimated recoverable resources of more than 2 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe), Statoil said in a presentation today. First oil from Carcara is expected in 2023-2024, with the breakeven estimated at around US$40 a barrel, with further reduction potential.
“We believe that this could be a very high-value asset. This has potential to be our [Johan] Sverdrup outside of Norway,” Jez Averty, Statoil’s senior vice president Exploration in Norway and the UK, told Reuters.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com