Oil giants Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell must ramp up spending to hit growth targets in the booming Permian Basin, spurring more consolidation and inflated oilfield services costs in the area, according to a new report released today from IHS Markit.
The supermajors, as they are known, will need to invest nearly $30 billion through 2020 to achieve strong growth projections, IHS found. That could result in higher costs for the oilfield services that drive Odessa’s economy, which supermajors could help fund by tapping their cash-flow generated outside the U.S.
“The supermajors will further stress the Permian service sector, and as costs escalate, the increased execution risk may be too great for these smaller companies to overcome, possibly forcing them into mergers or sales,” said Sven del Pozzo, director of energy equity research and analysis at IHS Markit, in a statement.
The report forecast the three Big Oil companies will spend a combined total of around $8 billion this year. That would increase to about $10 billion in 2019 and $11 billion in 2020.
Since 2017, the performance of wells belonging to the three supermajors has been catching up to the smaller independent oil companies that pioneered the boom. But the supermajors could buy companies and acreage to support their targets.
IHS pointed to Permian-focused Concho Resources’ recent purchase of RSP Permian exemplifying the rationale at play. Concho paid a premium for the company, a smaller competitor drilling productive wells on acreage that matched up with Concho’s.
“Prior to the deal, industry service-cost inflation was already apparent, as was the benefit of scale,” del Pozzo said.
By 2020, IHS projected Exxon would invest about $5 billion in the Permian Basin in 2020, the greatest amount among the three supermajors. The company earlier this year announced plans to triple daily production in the region to more than 600,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2025.
“If truly committed to the Permian Basin, the traditionally return-focused supermajors will have to grow accustomed to a rising cost-basis in order to build their core, operated-acreage positions that currently do not suffice to meet medium- to long-term growth plans,” del Pozzo said.