May 6, 2020 / 8:30 PM / a month ago

Producers Marathon Oil, Pioneer rush to save cash as oil slump bites

(Reuters) - Marathon Oil Corp (MRO.N) and Pioneer Natural Resources Co (PXD.N) on Wednesday detailed new plans to cut costs, as the U.S. oil producers seek ways to overcome a slump in crude prices due to excess supply and a plunge in demand owed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shale producers have been forced to cut expenses and shore up cash as crude prices have slumped due to a month-long price war between top producers Saudi Arabia and Russia, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

North American oil and gas producers have cut their 2020 spending by nearly 34%, or about $41.6 billion, from their original estimates, according to data compiled by Reuters.

Pioneer now expects 2020 capital expenditure between $1.4 billion and $1.6 billion, down from its prior estimates of $1.7 billion to $1.9 billion and 55% lower than its original budget.

The company’s production for the year is now expected to be between 341,000 to 359,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, about 11% lower from the midpoint of its previous estimates.

The forecast includes a voluntary cut of about 7,000 barrels of oil per day, Pioneer said.

Marathon, which has slashed spending twice within 30 days, suspended bit.ly/2YGfTl2 its quarterly dividend and share repurchase program as it swung to an adjusted loss in the first quarter and said it expected $350 million in annualized cost reductions.

“We’re dramatically reducing our capital expenditures, including a pause in virtually all completion activity during second quarter, and we will continue to optimize our capital program in response to market conditions,” Marathon Chief Executive Officer Lee Tillman said.

Most shale companies need prices above $40 per barrel to break even on costs at the well. U.S. crude CLc1, which has fallen about 60% this year, was trading at over $23 per barrel on Wednesday.

Marathon’s steps to bring down costs also include management pay cuts and reduction in its employee and contractor base by 16% and 70% respectively.

Reporting by Shanti S Nair and Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Vinay Dwivedi

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