[Editor's note: This story was updated at 5:17 p.m. CT May 6.]
Marathon Oil Corp. and Pioneer Natural Resources Co. on May 6 detailed new plans to cut costs, as the U.S. oil producers seek ways to overcome a slump in crude prices due to excess supply and a plunge in demand owed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shale producers have been forced to cut expenses and shore up cash as crude prices have slumped due to a month-long price war between top producers Saudi Arabia and Russia, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
North American oil and gas producers have cut their 2020 spending by nearly 34%, or about $41.6 billion, from their original estimates, according to data compiled by Reuters.
Pioneer now expects 2020 capex between $1.4 billion and $1.6 billion, down from its prior estimates of $1.7 billion to $1.9 billion and 55% lower than its original budget.
The company's production for the year is now expected to be between 341,000 boe/d to 359,000 boe/d, about 11% lower from the midpoint of its previous estimates.
The forecast includes a voluntary cut of about 7,000 bbl/d of oil, Pioneer said.
Marathon, which has slashed spending twice within 30 days, suspended its quarterly dividend and share repurchase program as it swung to an adjusted loss in the first quarter and said it expected $350 million in annualized cost reductions.
"We're dramatically reducing our capital expenditures, including a pause in virtually all completion activity during second quarter, and we will continue to optimize our capital program in response to market conditions," Marathon CEO Lee Tillman said.
Most shale companies need prices above $40 per barrel to break even on costs at the well. U.S. crude, which has fallen about 60% this year, was trading at over $23/bbl on May 6.
Marathon's steps to bring down costs also include management pay cuts and reduction in its employee and contractor base by 16% and 70% respectively.
Shale producer Pioneer Natural Resources Co. said on Nov. 20 it would reinstate full salaries of its CEO and other executives in 2021, after cutting them earlier this year as the COVID-19 pandemic crushed oil prices.
Occidental is returning drilling rigs to work in the Permian Basin in the southwestern U.S. and in Colorado this quarter, and returned a drillship to the Gulf of Mexico in early October.
A court-ordered sale of one-time shale high-flyer Alta Mesa Resources fell through due to a lack of financing on March 9, a day when oil prices and shares of U.S. oil producers plummeted.