Vikas Halan (Pix courtesy of events.moodys.io)
KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 -- The ratings of Asian national oil companies (NOCs), including Petronas, are well-positioned to withstand the drastically lower oil prices, underpinned by robust sovereign support, says an international credit rating firm.
Moody’s Investors Service senior vice president Vikas Halan said rating changes for Asian NOCs are likely to be small despite low oil prices straining their credit metrics.
"We expect that additional notches of uplift owing to sovereign support could be incorporated in the ratings of most NOCs should their Baseline Credit Assessment decline," he said in a statement.
Moreover, NOCs that have hedged the price risk for a portion of their production will be better positioned to withstand the sharp decline in crude prices in the near term.
Those with large cash reserves, such as China National Petroleum Corporation and Petronas, could also protect their credit profiles from low oil prices for at least the next 12-18 months, Halan said.
He said cash preservation will be a priority during the low oil price environment, and NOCs are likely to scale back shareholder returns, capital spending and investments.
However, dependence on oil and gas sector revenue by some sovereigns could constrain the ability for their respective NOCs to reduce dividends.
Additionally, Halan expected most NOCs to have solid liquidity and strong access to capital markets given their strategic importance.
Indonesian state-owned Pertamina and Petronas have successfully raised US$3 billion and US$6 billion respectively via the debt market thus far this year.
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