06/ Mar’19

Exxon Mobil sees 2020 capex rising by up to 16%

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(Reuters) – Exxon Mobil Corp said on Wednesday it plans to open its wallet and increase capital spending by 10 percent to 16 percent next year, as the U.S. oil major looks to restore flagging oil and gas production despite investor pressures to boost returns.

Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods has been under pressure to rein in expenses and boost a share price that has barely increased in the past seven years, as the company's cash flow has been strained by failed bets on Russia and natural gas.

Exxon's shares were down less than a percent at $79.70 in pre-market trading.

“Given the success we experienced last year and the progress we're making on our plans, we have even greater confidence in our ability to grow value for our shareholders,” Woods said.

Exxon expects to spend in the range of $63 billion to $65 billion in 2019 and 2020, which translates to spending of $33 billion to $35 billion for the next year alone.

This is higher than the $30 billion the company has forecast for this year and analysts' estimates of about $27 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company forecast capital spending of $46 billion to $48 billion for its production business in the same period, most of which would go to U.S. shale, deepwater projects in Brazil and Guyana and its global liquefied natural gas projects.

Exxon also responded to investor calls for it to trim some of its holdings and said it would divest $15 billion in holdings over the next three years.

The company said it expects annual cash flow from operations to reach $60 billion in 2025, on assumption of $60 per barrel oil prices.

The announcement comes a day after Exxon said it anticipates production from the Permian Basin to rise to 1 million barrels of oil and gas per day as early as 2024.

(Reporting by John Benny in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Shounak Dasgupta)