It’s a measure of how dire things are in the oil sector that Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A) has announced a write down of between $15 billion and $22 billion for the second quarter.
The write down is larger than the $17.5 billion write down that BP (BP) took in June or the $15 billion that Baker Hughes took in April 2020. It does not exceed, however, the $32 billion write down BP took in 2010 after the explosion and oil release in the Gulf of Mexico.
The underlying reason for the write down is the huge drop in oil demand and oil prices as a result of the coronavirus recession. The company’s quarterly report, due on July 30, will show a drop in sales to 3.5 million to 4.5 million barrels a day in the second quarter, down from 6.6 million a year earlier.
Shell’s upstream unit will take a $4 billion to $6 billion impairment mostly as a result of a drop in value of its North American oil shale and Brazilian assets.
This quarter won’t be the end of the pain either. The decline in LNG prices, which follow oil prices with a three to six month lag, according to the company, became “more prominent” starting in June, the company said. That means, as I read it, another write down, this time of LNG assets, in the third quarter.
Shares of Royal Dutch Shell were down 3.63% as of 2 p.m. New York time today