Increased activity in the Exploration and Production (E&P) sector will be the primary driver in pushing oil and gas capital expenditure (capex) to an enormous $1,039 billion for 2012, states the latest report by natural resources experts GlobalData. The new report predicts that the total oil and gas capex will increase by 13.4% this year over the 2011 total of $916 billion, as oil companies intensify upstream operations across locations as diverse as offshore Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Circle.
Investor confidence in new upstream projects is being driven by the increasing number of oil and gas discoveries (242 last year alone), combined with consistently high oil prices and the arrival of new technologies that are giving the major firms access to deep offshore reserves that were previously technically and financially unviable.
North America is expected to witness the highest capex globally, with $254.3 billion, representing a share of 24.5% of the 2012 global total. Compared to a global average capex growth rate of 13.4%, North America is expected to witness a capex growth of 15.7%. The increase of unconventional oil and gas activities, especially the continuing exploitation ofshale oil and gas sites and the development of Canadian oil sands are the major drivers for these investments.
GlobalData predicts Asia-Pacific to follow very closely with a capex of $253.1 billion, while the Middle East and Africa are forecast to spend $229.6 billion.
National Oil Companies (NOCs) are expected to lead in terms of capex, contributing approximately half of the total, with Integrated Oil Companies (IOCs) and independents making up the remainder. NOCs including Petroliam Nasional Berhad, China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation and Petroleo Brasileiro S.A plan on substantially increasing their E&P spending this year.
In terms of capital expenditure for the 2012–2016 period, Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. ranks first globally amongst NOCs, whereas ExxonMobil Corporation is expected to be the number one IOC. Together, these two plan to undertake a massive oil and gas capex of $409 billion through to 2016.