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Investment in oil and gas production continues to slip everywhere, unless ExxonMobil or China is involved. The CEO of ConocoPhillips discussed nearly $2 billion in investment cuts that his company plans to make. Drilling in the US slipped further, with Baker-Hughes reporting that the US rig count was down by another 38 to 1,005 last week, down just over 50% from mid-September. Low natural gas prices and the unavailability of credit have cut drillers capital budgets by 17 percent this year.

Total SA may delay a 230,000 b/d oil sands project.  In Qatar, natural gas, refinery and petro-chemical plant projects have been put on hold. The market for new floating production systems has dried up with no new orders being placed during the last quarter, the first such occurrence since 1996. In Russia the CEO of Rosneft said that shortfalls in investment and high taxes may lead to a major reduction in oil production over the next five years.

The CEO of Exxon remains optimistic and reiterated that his company will continue with plans to invest $129 billion for exploration and production during the next five years.  He insisted that the “temporary economic downturn will not affect Exxon’s business plans.”

China lent Brazil’s Petrobras $10 billion to fund the company’s offshore exploration in the pre-salt oil fields. In return, China locked up long term oil deliveries from Petrobras amounting to 160,000 b/d.  China and Kazakhstan are said to be close to signing a $10 billion agreement for a Chinese stake in the Kazakh national oil company. While in Beijing, Venezuelan President Chavez discussed plans for a new refinery to process Oronoco heavy oil in China. While in Tokyo, Chavez signed an agreement for a $1.5 billion loan to finance a refinery project and spoke of Japan investing $33 billion in Venezuela to insure an alternative source of energy.