U.S. energy behemoth Chevron Corporation (CVX - Analyst Report) offered a glimpse of its 2013 capital spending plans. The integrated major said that it will boost its capital expenditures by about $4 billion in 2013, as the company allocates the bulk of funds toward the ‘Exploration & Production’ segment, while continuing to be cautious about the amount of resources it devotes to the refining business. Chevron’s focus on the upstream business can be attributed to its strong portfolio of pipeline projects.
The second-largest U.S. oil company by market value has pegged its 2012 capital budget at $36.7 billion, up more than 12% from the $32.7 billion it expects to invest by the end of 2012. Of the total, roughly 90% will go toward oil and gas exploration projects worldwide, and 7% for downstream businesses.
Upstream: A major portion of the 2013 spending has been earmarked for large, multi-year developments. Chevron is planning to spend $33 billion for the exploration, production and natural gas-related projects, concentrating on the company’s successful and focused drilling results in recent years, as well as for further appraisal and evaluation of other prospective areas in the world’s major hydrocarbon basins. Major initiatives in 2013 are expected to consist of the Gorgon natural gas project in Australia, as well as opportunities in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Angola and the Republic of Congo.
In particular, Chevron said that the cost of its majority-owned Gorgon natural gas development in Australia has jumped 40% to $52 billion because of a stronger Australian dollar, steep labor costs, infrastructure challenges and weather delays.
Downstream: Capital spending in the downstream segment is expected to be $2.7 billion in 2013, primarily assigned for improving refinery efficiency, maximizing yield and producing cleaner fuels. Downstream outlays will include projects at the company’s facilities in Pascagoula (Mississippi) and Singapore.
Other: Lastly, the company is expected to spend approximately $1 billion in 2013 for technology, power generation and other corporate activities.
Chevron’s move to raise spending by an eighth not only marks the most that it has ever budgeted for capital expenditure but also put its outlay right next to that of the industry leader Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM - Analyst Report), which plans to spend $37 billion per year in the coming years.
San Ramon, California-based Chevron is one of the largest publicly traded oil and gas firms in the world, based on proved reserves. It is engaged in oil and gas exploration and production, refining and marketing of petroleum products, manufacturing of chemicals and other energy-related businesses.
Chevron shares currently retain a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term 'Hold' rating. We are also maintaining our long-term 'Neutral' recommendation on the stock.