According to reports, oil and gas firms have recorded declined cash flows following the decline in oil prices.
During the 13th Aret Adams Annual Lecture Series in Lagos on Thursday, February 26, 2016, industry players said that the decline in prices have affected their businesses, resulting to huge cuts in capital expenditure and has made them unable to repay debts.
Austin Avuru, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc stated that there is a possibility that the banks are more nervous than the operating companies in Nigeria.
He added that exploration investments had almost dried up and that the implications would become evident later as addition to reserves would flatten out.
“We saw a profit warning yesterday (Wednesday) from First Bank describing impairments that are likely to erode their P&L bottom line when they publish their 2015 results. That is a warning to shareholders and investors and that is because of their exposure to the upstream segment of the oil and gas industry.
“When people ask me how we are doing, I say we are under water. If you can survive at the end of 2017 under this regime, you will be in business for all time. I suspect that there will be a lot of dead bodies by the end of 2017.
“The biggest problem with the independents is that we are all heavily leveraged. You borrowed to buy our assets. You borrowed to work the assets, and deployed critical capital expenditure so that you can ramp up production; so that you can repay your debts. Then came the drop in price. You cannot grow production because you don’t have the free cash flow to do that. You need production, even more production in this price regime.
“So our biggest problem is our discussion with our bankers. Most of us are now cash negative. As I said, you need more cash to do investment to grow oil production to be able to meet your obligations and that is exactly what you don’t have. For the majors, usually what they need to do is cut capex, fire some employees to balance their books and explain to their shareholders why they are reducing marginally the dividend payout.
“57 per cent of the land rigs in Nigeria today are idle. Each of these will ordinarily be employing some 210 people. In 2013, we were operating seven rigs in Seplat, we dropped our last rig in November 2015. We don’t have a rig working for us now. Service companies are in serious trouble.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Chevron Nigeria Limited, Mr. Clay Neff, who described the drop in oil prices as dramatic by any scale or stretch, said, “We are going through challenging times. Development work has dropped significantly. New projects are being slowed down because the economics don’t justify going forward.”