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BP slashes capital spending in 2020 due to COVID-19, expects outbreak to hurt downstream results

June 05/2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BP says it will reduce its planned organic capital spending in 2020 to about USD12 billion as part of its response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, down 25% compared with the company's prior full-year guidance, with an expected spending cut of about USD1 billion in its downstream business segment, which includes petrochemicals, reported Chemweek.

No further details on the cut in downstream expenditure have been given by BPs CEO, Bernard Looney, who says that despite the company's actions to reduce spending and costs, "the challenging environment is expected to have an impact on our first-quarter results and there is uncertainty around how long current depressed commodity pricing and weakness in product demand will continue." Market conditions are "currently volatile and extremely challenging," says Looney.

"BP continues to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on our global operations and in the first quarter there was no significant operational impact. This could change through the second quarter," he says. BP expects its downstream business's first-quarter results to be squeezed by a "significant and growing decline in demand for fuels, jet fuel, and lubricants as countries implemented significant measures to address COVID-19. This has been particularly evident in China and, towards quarter-end, has extended into our larger US and European markets, Looney adds. "In downstream, we expect a reduction in spend of around USD1.0 billion, which includes reduced spending across our fuels marketing, refining, and petrochemicals businesses," he notes.

Downstream refining availability for BP is expected to be in a range of 95-96%, with some reduction seen in utilization toward the end of the first quarter due in particular to falling demand for fuel, according to Looney.

Regarding the spending cuts and other measures to protect the companys financial health, Looney says, This may be the most brutal environment for oil and gas businesses in decades, but I am confident that we will come through it - we know what to do and we have done so before. The company entered the current environment with good operating momentum and financial discipline, strong liquidity, and extensive optionality in its portfolio, he says. BP will continue to review these actions and any further ones that may be appropriate, in response to changes in prevailing market conditions, he adds.

BP says it has about USD32 billion of cash and undrawn facilities available at the end of the first quarter. The companys existing divestment program to deliver USD15 billion of announced transactions by mid-2021 remains on track, although the phasing of receipt of USD10 billion of divestment proceeds by the end of 2020 "may be revised as transactions complete, particularly while volatile market conditions persist," it says. To date, USD9.6 billion of transactions have been announced since the start of 2019, with about USD3.4 billion of cash proceeds received, BP adds.

Cash cost savings of about USD2.5 billion are also expected by the end of 2021, compared with 2019, with digitization and increased integration across the company to be the key drivers of the savings, according to BP. It also continues to review potential first-quarter impairment charges and currently expects to take a noncash, nonoperating charge of about USD1 billion in the quarter.

BP says it has also implemented actions such as changed shift patterns at its various plants worldwide to make social distancing easier, restricted workplace access, and is reducing nonessential activity and manning levels at its development projects where possible to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19.

"Job security is a big worry at this time, so we have taken the decision that for the next three months no BP employees will be laid off as a result of virus-related cost cutting. We simply do not want to add another burden during what is already an incredibly stressful time for individuals and families," says Looney. The company has also donated USD2 million to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund to support the work of the World Health Organization in leading and coordinating the international pandemic response, he says.

The company is using its own stocks and supply chain to donate personal protective equipment to health services in the US, UK, France, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, and Germany, he adds. In Brazil, BP is also diverting some of its sugarcane ethanol production via its biofuels joint venture to make a disinfectant product for supply to local health services serving a population of 1.4 million.

As MRC informed before, BP has entered into an agreement to license its latest generation technology for the production of purified terephthalic acid (PTA) to Chinas Dongying Weilian Chemical Co., Ltd. Weilian Chemical is a subsidiary of Dongying United Petrochemical Co., Ltd, one of the leading manufacturers and distributors of petroleum and petrochemical products in China. Weilian Chemical intends to build a 2.5 million tonnes per annum PTA production unit at the Dongying Port Economic Development Zone in eastern Shandong province, adding to Dongying United Petrochemicals existing refineries and paraxylene (PX) facilities portfolio.

PTA is used to produce polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which, in its turn, is used in the manufacturing of plastic bottles, films, packaging containers, in the textile and food industries.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, April total estimated PET consumption virtually did not change year on year, totalling 60,840 tonnes (in April 2019 - 60,980 tonnes). 235,160 tonnes of PET chips were processed in Russia in January-April 2020.

BP is one of the world's leading international oil and gas companies, providing its customers with fuel for transportation, energy for heat and light, retail services and petrochemicals products for everyday items.
Author:Margaret Volkova
Tags:crude and gaz condensate, PET-granulate, terephthalic acid, petrochemistry, packaging, BP Plc.
Category:General News
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