Spain's Repsol cuts dividend, aims for low-carbon unit deal

By Isla Binnie
·2-min read
The logo of the Spanish energy giant Repsol SA is seen during the opening ceremony of its first gas station in Mexico City

By Isla Binnie

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's Repsol will cut shareholder payouts and aims to sell a stake in its lower-carbon business as it curbs oil and gas production under a new five-year plan presented on Thursday.

Its shares were down more than 4% by early afternoon, reversing a rise so far this month. Repsol's market value has now fallen 38% since the start of this year, mirroring slumps across the sector as the COVID-19 pandemic hurt fuel demand.

Lowering its 2021 and 2022 payout to 0.60 euros per share in cash from one euro per share, the company said buybacks could push returns above one euro per share by 2025. It will no longer offer a so-called scrip dividend, paid in shares.

Larger peers BP and Royal Dutch Shell broke a long-standing sector taboo by cutting their dividends this year, but Shell hiked its payout again last month..

Lower-carbon ventures, including renewables and biofuels, will receive 30% of a planned 18.5 billion euros ($22.1 billion) investment, contributing to a five-fold increase in renewable generation capacity to 15 gigawatts (GW) in 2030.

Chief Executive Josu Jon Imaz said he aimed to sell a stake in a new low-carbon unit, which in future will be dominated by renewables, to a partner or publicly offer its shares in the next two years.

"There is no calendar fixed strictly in time, but in 2021, 2022 we will carry out this operation," he told a live-streamed news conference.

Repsol, an early mover among oil and gas firms in pledging to cut or offset all the emissions produced by the products it extracts, said it would reduce operating expenditure on oil and gas exploration and production by 15%.

It also set a target to produce 64,000 tonnes a year of hydrogen from renewable sources - seen as potentially key to decarbonising industry - by 2025.

The new plan is based on Brent crude oil prices at $50 per barrel and Henry Hub gas at $2.5 per million British thermal units. The free cashflow breakeven price, indicating how much a new project must generate, is less than $40 per barrel.

($1 = 0.8401 euros)

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Mark Potter and Jan Harvey)