Exxon and Chevron have set aside $40 billion for shale projects next year
Oil giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron are set to spend up to $39 billion combined in shale investments in 2023. They also seek to lower the carbon intensity of production, while increasing returns to investors if crude prices stay elevated.
Exxon says it could devote $50 billion to stock buybacks alone through 2024.
Both companies keep emphasizing returning cash to shareholders, for spending will be about half of 2023 projected cash generation.
Chevron expects to spend $14 billion in 2023, before counting affiliates.
According to Reuters, the budget adds $2 billion, or 14%, to this year’s sum.
The $340 billion company already lifted its production target in North America’s biggest oil field at the end of April, in a response to high crude prices.
Exxon is also planning to invest up to $25 billion into exploration in 2023, at the high end of its expected range through 2027.
America’s largest oil company set a profit record for the second-straight quarter as oil and gas prices remained high. Chevron also posted much-better-than-expected results.
So, the temptation to continue increasing profits is high, even next year’s capital expenditure levels are chaste compared to previous excesses.
Both companies spent more than double in 2013 to increase outlays on energy projects, at a combined value of $84 billion.
Back then, oil prices often traded above $100 per barrel as it has this year, so Chevron invested almost three times as much on extraction in 2013.
But there’s still a risk of overspending on fossil fuels just before demand tumbles.
On the other hand, renewables are also a gamble because of the lack of competitive advantage and probable lower profitability than oil and gas.
If the oil price stays at around $80 a barrel, ExxonMobil will generate some $160 billion in surplus cash by 2027.