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Exxon Breaks With Tradition, Announces $20 Billion Oil Asset Write-Down

Exxon has finally broken with its tradition to never write down its assets. Exxon has announced massive writedowns of between $17 billion and $20 billion due to the pandemic and its effect on the oil industry.

The company also said that it will focus on its most lucrative projects and remove less lucrative ones from its development plan. The latter, all dry gas assets, will result in the $17-20 billion writedown.

“Leveraging the significant cost savings realized in 2020 that are on track to exceed announced reductions of $10 billion or 30 percent of capital spending and 15 percent of cash operating expenses,” Exxon said, adding, “Key to ongoing expense management are business line reorganizations and efficiencies that include global workforce reduction of 15 percent by year-end 2021.”

The supermajor said it planned to spend between $16 billion and $19 billion next year and then maintain an average annual rate of investments of between $20 billion and $25 billion. That’s down from a plan for annual spending of $30 billion for the period and suggests that Exxon expects a relatively quick recovery in oil and gas.

The supermajor will take advantage of this recovery by focusing on its operations in Guyana, the Permian, and Brazil, the company said. Chemicals will also be a priority area for Exxon in the near term.

Despite the challenges that the pandemic has created for the oil industry—and Exxon in particular—the company remained true to its policy of stable dividends, even amid a shortage of cash. In October, Exxon said it would maintain its dividend at $0.87 per quarter. At the time, an analyst from Raymond James warned that to keep the payout, Exxon would have to sell assets or take on more debt.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on December 01 2020 said:
    It was a matter of time before ExxonMobil followed the example of European oil supermajors and announced a massive asset write-downs of between $17 bn and $20 bn due to the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global oil industry.

    But unlike its European peers, ExxonMobil is maintaining the level of its its dividends and to pay for them it has decided to reduce its investments next year to between $16 bn and $19 bn, announced massive asset write-downs and will be reducing its global workforce by 15% by year-end 2021.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
  • George Doolittle on December 01 2020 said:
    Just a straight up stupendous oil glut in the USA. The current prices are zero excuse either as $40 buck a barrel oil is hardly low. Been great news for Tesla anyways.

    Straight up total junk for a management Team. Still not as bad as Occidental tho obviously.

    Certainly better run than any Government outside of North Dakota at the moment tho. Given the raging bull market tho $xom employees need to be told they're a sucking chest wound for a reason. The alternative is to become the US Coal Industry cannot be stressed enough.

    Long $nee Next Era Energy
    Strong buy

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