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石油市场走弱,壳牌放弃北极钻井

更新时间:2015-10-1 10:33:29 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Shell Exits Arctic as Oil Slump Forces Industry to Retrench
石油市场走弱,壳牌放弃北极钻井

As oil prices have continued their steady decline this year, rig after rig has been shut down, costing thousands of jobs in the United States. Yet major oil producers have been loathe to pull the plug on their most ambitious projects — the multibillion-dollar investments that form the backbone of their operations.

随着今年石油价格持续走低,一口口油井接连被关闭,导致美国丧失成千上万的工作机会。但大型石油生产商一直不愿停止它们最有野心的项目,这些价值数十亿美元的投资项目,支撑了石油企业的运营。

Until now. On Monday, Royal Dutch Shell ended its expensive and fruitless nine-year effort to explore for oil in the Alaskan Arctic — a $7 billion investment — in another sign that the entire industry is trimming its ambitions in the wake of collapsing oil prices.

但这种情况现在结束了。周一,荷兰皇家壳牌(Royal Dutch Shell)放弃了在阿拉斯加勘探石油的努力,这一耗资高昂的项目历时九年但一无所获——壳牌投资70亿美元。这表明在油价暴跌后,整个行业都在收敛其野心。

The announcement was hailed as a major victory by environmentalists, who had fought the project for years, only to be stymied by pressure inside and outside the industry to increase domestic oil production.

壳牌的声明受到了环保人士的热烈欢迎,他们曾和这一项目抗争多年。但因为行业内外都存在增加国内石油产量的压力,环保人士的抗争此前并无进展。

But at a time when global markets are glutted with oil, thanks to the advent of new drilling techniques, the announcement also confirmed major oil companies’ increasing willingness to turn their backs on the most expensive new drilling prospects in the Gulf of Mexico and suspend plans for new projects in Canada’s oil sands.

随着新兴钻井技术的出现,全球市场上石油供过于求,在这种时候,壳牌的声明也证实,大型石油企业越来越想要回避墨西哥湾(Gulf of Mexico)最昂贵的钻探机会,也想要搁置在加拿大启动新项目,开采油砂的计划。

The industry has cut its investments by 20 percent this year and laid off at least 200,000 workers worldwide, roughly 5 percent of the total work force. At the same time, companies have retreated from less profitable fields in places like the North Sea, West Africa, and some shale prospects in Louisiana and North Dakota.

今年,石油行业的投资减少了20%,全球至少裁员20万人,大约相当于其员工总数的5%。与此同时,各公司纷纷撤出利润较少的地区,如北海、西非,以及路易斯安那州和北达科塔州一些潜在的页岩产区。

Over all, American oil companies have decommissioned more than half of their drilling rigs over the last year, and production is beginning to drop in the United States. Even exports from Saudi Arabia are beginning to ebb because of a glut in its Asian markets.

总体而言,在过去一年里,美国的石油企业停用了超过一半的石油钻井平台,美国的石油产量也开始下降。即便是沙特阿拉伯的石油出口量,也因为亚洲市场石油过剩而开始减少。

“The decision by Shell to abandon its Arctic drilling program for now primarily reflects the realities of lower global oil prices,” said Michael C. Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, who advises oil companies and investment banks. “When prices go down the oil industry shortens their list of projects in development by removing the most expensive ones.”

“壳牌暂时放弃其北极钻井项目的决定,首先反映出全球油价走低的现实,”战略能源和经济研究公司(Strategic Energy and Economic Research)总裁迈克尔·C·林奇(Michael C. Lynch)说。他为石油公司和投资银行提供决策建议。“当价格降低时,石油行业会取消其最为昂贵的项目,减少建设中的项目总量。”

This year, industry executives held out hope that the oil price, which has fallen more than 50 percent to below $50 a barrel since last summer, would recover before too long. But in recent weeks, a growing number of executives have warned that the downturn could last well into 2016 and perhaps beyond, especially if the Iran nuclear deal leads to a flood of new oil on world markets.

今年,石油行业的高管提出,油价有望在不久之后回升——自去年夏天以来,油价已经下降逾50个百分点,跌破每桶50美元。但近几周来,越来越多的高管警告说,油价下降的颓势可能会持续到2016年甚至更久,如果伊朗核协议使国际市场新增大量石油供应,就尤其可能如此。

With demand dwindling, the current market of 94 million barrels a day has roughly two million barrels in surplus supply.

由于需求减少,目前市场上每天供应的9400万桶石油,会有大约200万桶的剩余。

Now, economic forces have scuttled what environmentalists had tried to do for years in the courts and with raucous protests in canoes and kayaks, arguing that drilling in the dark, ice-filled Arctic was dangerous to polar bears and other sea life.

多年来,环保人士曾在法庭力争,也曾驾着小船吵杂地抗议,坚称在昏暗无光、冰雪覆盖的北极开展钻井活动,会给北极熊和其他海洋生物造成危害。而今,经济的力量迅速达成了他们一直以来为之奋斗的目标。

“This is a victory for everyone who has stood up for the Arctic,” said Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace, a leader in the protests against Shell. “There is no better time to keep fossil fuels in the ground, bringing us one step closer to an energy revolution and sustainable future.”

“对每个保卫过北极的人来说,这都是一场胜利,”安妮·雷纳德(Annie Leonard)说。她是绿色和平(Greenpeace)执行理事,也是反壳牌抗议活动的领导者。“现在是把化石燃料保留在地下的最佳时机,这让我们离能源革命和可持续的未来又走近了一步。”

Industry experts say there is plenty of oil in offshore Alaska, and that renewed efforts are still possible if and when the oil price recovers. But environmentalists declared a triumph.

业内专家表示,阿拉斯加附近海域有丰富的石油资源,如果油价回归,开采活动仍有可能恢复。但环保人士已经宣布取得了胜利。

Shell has spent more than $7 billion on an effort that has been plagued by blunders and accidents involving ships and support equipment, reaching a climax with the grounding of one of its drilling vessels in December 2012 in stormy seas. Even after ConocoPhillips and the Norwegian oil giant Statoil suspended their Alaskan offshore drilling operations, Shell carried on, asserting that the Chukchi Sea potentially represented the next great global oil find.

壳牌已花费超过70亿美元巨资开展这个项目,但船只和辅助设备却接连出现失误和事故,其中最严重的一桩发生在2012年12月,当时该公司的一艘钻探船在狂风骤雨的海上搁浅。尽管康菲石油(ConocoPhillips)和挪威国家石油公司(Statoil)都停止了在阿拉斯加附近海域的钻井作业,但是壳牌还是继续推进。该公司断定,楚科奇海可能是下一个全球石油大发现。

But the company announced that its one well drilled this summer “found indications of oil and gas, but these are not sufficient to warrant further exploration.” In a statement, it also acknowledged “the high costs associated with the project and the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska.”

然而壳牌公司宣布,该公司今年夏天钻探的一口油井“发现了存在石油和天然气的迹象,但并不足以支撑进一步勘探”。该公司还在一份声明中表示,认识到“该项目涉及高昂的成本,而且阿拉斯加海洋石油开采也面临着挑战性极大且无法预测的联邦监管环境。”

The decision represented a major turnaround from the faith in the project that Ben van Beurden, Shell’s chief executive, expressed as recently as August. At the time, he said that Shell’s holdings in the Alaskan Arctic could be “multiple times” more bountiful than the enormous fields in the Gulf of Mexico. “We can’t be driven by today’s, tomorrow’s, or next year’s, or last year’s oil price,” he said.

这一决策是壳牌公司态度的重大转变。迟至8月,壳牌公司首席执行官本·范伯登(Ben van Beurden)还曾对该项目表达过信心。当时,范伯尔登说,壳牌在阿拉斯加附近的北极水域拥有的项目,产量可能比墨西哥湾巨大的油田大上“好几倍”。“我们不能根据今天、明天、明年,或者去年的油价采取行动,”他说。

Shell’s current foray into the Alaska offshore began under Mr. van Beurden’s predecessors, and he has always been concerned about the project’s costs and risks. Soon after he became chief executive in 2014, he temporarily halted drilling in Alaska because of legal and regulatory issues.

早在范伯登的前任的领导下,壳牌就开始了眼下在阿拉斯加沿海的活动。而范伯登一直对该项目的成本和风险心存疑虑。2014年出任首席执行官后不久,他就曾因法律和监管问题一度叫停了在阿拉斯加的钻探活动。

He came around to the view that the potential bonanza was worth the expense and headaches, but now that drilling has produced an unexpectedly poor result, he may have decided to follow his original instincts and call a halt.

他后来转而认为,为了潜在的丰厚利润,费用和麻烦事是值得的。但既然钻探结果出乎意料的糟糕,他可能决定遵从最初的直觉,叫停钻探活动。

“This first dry well seems to have been the trigger for the C.E.O. to pull the plug on their Alaska exploration campaign,” said Oswald Clint, an analyst at Bernstein Research in London.

“第一口枯井似乎是这位首席执行官叫停阿拉斯加的勘探活动的导火索,”伦敦伯恩斯坦研究公司(Bernstein Research)的分析师奥斯瓦尔德·克林特(Oswald Clint)说。

The Alaska operations have cost billions of dollars. Shell said the value of Alaska drilling on its balance sheet was $3.1 billion and that it had a further $1.1 billion in contractual commitments, probably for items like drilling rigs. The company said it would take write-offs as a result of the decision to halt drilling.

阿拉斯加的行动已经耗费了数十亿美元。壳牌表示,在其资产负债表上,阿拉斯加钻探活动的价值是31亿美元,还有11亿美元的合同承诺额,可能是为钻台等设备准备的。该公司称,因为决定停止钻探,公司会进行减记。

“Shell continues to see important exploration potential” in offshore Alaska, Marvin E. Odum, president of Shell Oil, said in a statement. “However, this is clearly a disappointing outcome.”

在阿拉斯加沿海地区,“壳牌依然认为有巨大的勘探潜力,”壳牌石油总裁马文·E·奥德姆(Marvin E. Odum)在一则声明中说。“然而,这显然是一个令人失望的结果。”

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