Sunday, November 2, 2008

Oil Megaprojects Get Sand in the Gearbox

This from RigZone:
Oil sands companies were the first to feel the pain of plunging oil prices and the credit crisis. Mining tar-like bitumen and shipping it to refineries costs more than extracting hydrocarbons from more conventional fields, bumping up the oil sands' price threshold. Analysts estimate some projects may need a long-term oil price of $100 a barrel or even higher to make a decent return.
The high upfront capital costs often lead to heavy reliance on the credit markets, especially for start-up firms with no independent cash flow. But this option has slammed shut amid the global liquidity crisis, and oil sands developers have already started rejiggering project plans as a result....

Five years ago, the capital cost of building a project that mined bitumen and processed it into high-quality crude was around C$40,000 per barrel of production, reckons Andrew Potter, a UBS Securities analyst. The same project today could cost C$180,000 per barrel, or around C$18 billion for a typical 100,000 barrel-a-day development....

"Companies indicated they were comfortable with costs around C$100,000 (per barrel of production) but when we started getting estimates of C$160,000 or C$180,000, then we heard a collective gasp," First Energy's Lacey said. "That's when investors put their foot down and said, 'Enough.'"
You know what they say...High prices cure high prices and low prices cure low prices.

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