Oil Producers Flush With Cash Cut Reliance on Funding Markets

Last year, the demand for loans from fossil-fuel companies fell 6% year-on-year and that followed a decline of 1% in 2022.

From a climate perspective, this may sound like good news because the drop in bank lending to oil, gas and coal companies should mean less investment and less production over time.

The reality, however, is that oil and gas companies don’t need a lot of loans because they’re generating so much money these days from their underlying businesses, said Andrew John Stevenson, senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. And that trend is likely to continue through the end of the decade, he said.

“The oil and gas industry has experienced a number of booms and busts over the past few decades, but for now, it appears to be flush with cash,” he said. The healthy balance sheets reflect the boost that companies have received from rising oil prices, buoyed by robust demand and OPEC+ production cuts.

The sector’s free cash flow is so strong that the group’s leverage ratio, which measures a company’s net debt relative to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, fell to 0.8 in 2023 from 2.4 in 2020, Stevenson said. The ratio will likely slide below zero by the end of the decade, he said.