Big Oil Cuts $20 Billion in Five Hours to Preserve Dividends

Royal Dutch Shell Plc will cut $15 billion of investment over the next three years as the crash in oil prices saw fourth-quarter profit miss forecasts.

Shell, the first of the world’s largest oil companies to report earnings following the slump in crude to a five-year low, will defer or cancel about 40 projects worldwide, Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said today. Exploration will also be curtailed.

“We see pressure on our investment program,” van Beurden said on Bloomberg TV. “It’s a game of being prudent but at the same time not overreacting.”

Profit excluding one-time items and inventory changes was $3.3 billion in the quarter, up from $2.9 billion a year earlier, Shell said today. That missed the $4.1 billion average of 13 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Shell shares dropped 4.3 percent to 2,060 pence at the close in London, the biggest decline since Oct. 31, 2013.

The global industry is scurrying to respond as oil below $50 a barrel guts cash flows. Occidental Petroleum Corp. and ConocoPhilips also announced lower spending today. BP Plc has frozen wages and Chevron Corp. delayed its 2015 drilling budget. By cutting investment, companies aim to protect returns to investors.

via Big Oil Cuts $20 Billion in Five Hours to Preserve Dividends – Yahoo Finance.

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