Sector needs to commit to long-term thinking to produce meaningful cost-cutting results, says expert
A majority of senior oil & gas professionals (56%) believe that the industry is repeating the mistakes of previous downturns and have concerns over the loss of jobs and experience and lack of efficiency, according to a new report published by DNV GL, a leading technical advisor to the oil and gas industry. A new phase of cost management is needed, as nearly three quarters (73%) of senior oil and gas professionals globally are preparing their company for a sustained period of low oil prices.
According to A New Reality: the outlook for the oil and gas industry in 2016, a report based on a global survey of 921 senior sector players, cost management is the top priority for 41% of respondents in 2016. The top three measures prioritised to impose stricter cost controls are: tougher decisions on capex, down from 44% in 2015 to 31% in 2016, suggesting that opportunities for further capex reductions are limited; prioritising headcount reductions, up from 25% last year to 31% in 2016, signalling further job losses; and increasing pressure on the supply chain, down from 31% in 2015 to 27% in 2016, indicating that suppliers have been squeezed as much as possible.
Elisabeth Tørstad, CEO of DNV GL Oil & Gas, says: “With the low oil price, the industry has taken painful short-term cost-cutting measures by reducing the capex and headcount and squeezing the supply chain. Although 74% say they achieved their cost-efficiency targets last year and 65% believe the industry will be successful in cutting costs in 2016, not all parts of the sector have been able to achieve lasting lower cost levels during downturns. To prevent repeating past mistakes, real change is needed now - cutting complexity, increasing collaboration and driving standardisation. These measures will enable the industry to adjust to the new reality and put it on a sustainable growth path for the long-term.”
There are some promising signs that the industry is adopting longer-term thinking on cost management: six in ten (61%) respondents agree that operators will increasingly push to standardise their delivery globally, up from 55% in 2015 and 52% in 2014.
Even in the current price environment, 49% say their company is taking a long-term approach to innovation and R&D. However, nearly one in five companies (18%) does not have a strategy in place to maintain innovation. The most common strategy for maintaining innovation with lower budgets is to increase collaboration with other industry players (45%). Nearly one in three (30%) plans greater involvement in joint industry projects in the year ahead.
“Innovation and collaboration are even more important in this current price environment. It isn’t just about finding the breakthrough technologies although that’s important too – it’s also about making things simpler and more efficient and ultimately helping the industry to safely cut costs. At DNV GL, we are continuing to invest 5% of our revenue in R&D as we see this as a key enabler for sustainable long-term competitiveness,” continues Tørstad.
The greatest barriers to growth in 2016 are the low oil price (63%), weak global economy (42%), uneconomic gas prices (21%) and growing regulatory burden (11%). Access to capital (16%) has also become more prominent in 2016.