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EY Price Point:
global oil and gas
market outlook
Q1 | January 2021
Q1 overview
Gary Donald
EY Global Oil & Gas Assurance Leader
gdonald@uk.ey.com
Andy Brogan
EY Global Oil & Gas Leader
abrogan@uk.ey.com
Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 2
We enter 2021 on a note of cautious optimism for global health, the world economy, and the oil and gas
markets. The first weeks of December brought approval in the US and the UK of the first of several COVID-19
vaccines. The speed with which vaccine development occurred is unprecedented, but certainly welcome. In the
weeks following the early November announcement of 90+% effectiveness by the manufacturer of the first
approved vaccine, the price of WTI crude oil increased by US$10/bbl to US$48/bbl, the highest level since early
March. Sustainability hasn’t returned yet, and whatever time it takes to get the world to normal, it will take
even longer for normalization within the oil and gas markets. Inventories remain at historically high levels and,
optimistically, it will take until April before inventory returns to levels observed in the preceding five years.
That’s an estimate, and there has obviously been some difficulty properly calibrating the expectations of how
balance will return and how long it will take. In late November, OPEC met to adjust its output plans because of
the anemic rebound in demand. In mid-December, the IEA lowered its demand forecast for 2021 due mostly to
continued sluggishness in aviation fuel demand.
A mild winter has interrupted a recovery in North American natural gas prices after a run-up motivated by
curtailed capital expenditures, upstream activity and production. After an initial meltdown, with cargo
cancellations and dramatic price reversal, LNG markets have made a remarkable comeback, and the spread
between Asia and Henry Hub has reached a level we haven’t seen in almost three years. It may be the case that
interruption in FIDs has brought us to the cusp of a balance that can support reliable returns.
• Can market confidence be sustained until COVID-19 vaccination programs start to bend the curve on cases?
• Can OPEC supply discipline hold until they do?
• Have LNG markets turned the corner or is the uptick in prices an aberration?
• How much lower might US gas (and oil) production go until capital comes back (if it does)?
Q1 theme
?Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 3
The theme for this quarter is guarded. While it appears the world is about to come around a corner, we have no
idea just how wide the turn might be. While vaccine development was a Herculean challenge, deployment could
be challenging and time consuming. The logistics of transporting and storing the first vaccines are daunting,
full effectiveness requires two doses spaced several weeks apart and the public’s attitudes toward vaccine
safety have yet to be tested. Most of the vaccine doses that we know can be produced in the early part of next
year have been spoken for by frontline medical staff, the elderly and other high-risk individuals.
Epidemiologists predict case loads and hospitalizations won’t go down quickly, and the markets were rattled by
the emergence of a new coronavirus strain in the UK. However, the prospect of an eventual return to normal
might be enough to sustain market confidence until they do.
LNG markets, stuck at unsustainable levels even before the pandemic, are showing signs of life. Chinese gas
demand is expected to grow 10% from last year, and the relatively light second wave of COVID-19 in Asia (less
than one-fifth of the new cases but well over half of the world’s population), the rapid recovery of the Asian
economy and the rebound in gas demand may have caught the market by surprise. It is possible demand
growth, coupled with the pause in investment, may provide an opportunity for long-lived balance.
US gas markets, mostly stable through the crisis, showed strength before it became apparent warm weather
would dampen demand. Capital has been constrained, gas-directed rigs are at historic lows, and production is
about 10 Bcf/day lower than it was at its peak. Investors were hopeful markets might tighten up for the winter,
but that didn’t happen. January futures have fallen US90 cents/MMBtu.
Q1 trends
EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 4 Q1 | January 2021
LNG markets
show signs of
rebalancing
In rapid succession, COVID-19 vaccines
were approved for distribution in the US
and UK. The return to normal is still
distant, but the oil market has begun to
price it in.
Vaccine news
leads oil
market rally
Aviation fuel has been the hardest-hit
segment of oil demand. It remains to be
seen how soon vacationers and business
travelers will get back in the air when
large-scale vaccination occurs and the
threat of disease has abated.
Aviation fuel
demand slow
to recover
LNG spreads are at levels not seen in
the last three years. The rapid recovery
of the Asian economy, the onset of
winter and the pause in FIDs have
conspired to accelerate the process of
balancing supply and demand.
Measured
equity market
response to
IOC transition
ambitions
The immediate impact of COVID-19 on
oil economics and the uncertainties
created by energy transition have led
many oil companies to consider
strategic alternatives to hydrocarbons.
Share prices have yet to respond in a
way that suggests investors are seeing
oil companies as anything other than oil
companies.
0
2
4
6
8
10
Regional gas prices (US$/MMBtu)
TR NE Asia LNG spot TTF front month Henry Hub front month
Market fundamentals
Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 5
Oil demand and supply recover in lockstep
• Supply-demand balance in the global oil markets since the start of the COVID-19
pandemic has been remarkably stable after the initial shock of losing 20 million barrels
per day (mmbpd) of demand in the wave of infections and lockdowns that began in
March. Recovery has been slow but relatively steady, and the US EIA projects demand
in December 2020 will be within 5 mmbpd of where it was in December 2019.
• Crude oil production in the US bottomed out in May at about 2.5 mmbpd less than it’s
peak of 12.5 mmbpd in November 2019. Economics have prevailed. Marginal
production has been shut in, and exploration and development have been cut to a bare
minimum. Output has recovered slightly, but capital investment cuts have (and will) get
in the way of production growth, which makes it unlikely production will recover to
output levels projected before the crisis.
• OPEC, as in previous cycles, has played the role of the market balancer and has
restored just enough production to meet demand recovery. A recent agreement
delayed planned production increases in response to the slower than expected demand
rebound.
Source: US EIASource: Refinitiv
• The global LNG market is rebalancing with regional gas price spreads higher than
before the virus outbreak. The difference between Asian LNG spot prices and US Henry
Hub has increased ~35x from US$0.2/MMBtu in May to US$7/MMBtu in December,
representing the highest spread in three years.
• Asian LNG spot prices have risen more rapidly than other regions globally as colder
than predicted winters boosted LNG demand. Gas stocks in Europe peaked (at 98% of
capacity) in late October and are 80% full as of this writing. US gas prices are up
annually but still below the five-year average as warm weather continues to confound
the market’s demand expectations.
• A pause in sanctioning new LNG capacity, coupled with delays in projects under
development, could cause markets to tighten further.
• While an LNG deal between a US seller and a Chinese buyer signaled a revival of long-
term LNG trade between the countries, uncertainty still exists as the US has imposed
new sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Europe.
Regional gas price spread widens with winter weather
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov
IndexedtoJanuary2020
IOC vs Green Energy Equity Performance
European IOCs American IOCs NASDAQ Clean Edge Green Energy
Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 6
Market fundamentals
Equity markets discount IOC commitment to green energy Peak oil market volatility has come and gone
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
OVX Index
• The COVID-19 crisis, low oil prices and sub-par returns on hydrocarbon assets, in
combination with public and investor pressure to reduce carbon footprints, have
caused some oil majors to rethink their single-minded and long-standing commitment
to petroleum. Those businesses have performed well for most of a century, but times
are changing and almost all of the majors have begun to explore and, in some cases,
make significant capital commitments to electricity and renewable generation assets.
• The IOC commitment to low-carbon energy has been uneven and has cut along
geographic lines. European majors have made the strongest and most public
commitments, while North American majors have been more hesitant and have chosen
to focus on their core businesses. It has truly been a tale of two hemispheres.
• As of now, there is no clear sign of a positive investor response to aggressive transition
strategies. Post-COVID-19, green energy stocks have performed spectacularly, while
US and European oil equities have traded in near-lockstep with each other.
• The lifeblood of commodity trading businesses is market volatility. It’s exploited by
earning a bid-offer spread, which widens when the market is moving violently, and by
offering (at a profit) risk management products (such as options and structured
products) to energy producers and end users and also by taking speculative positions
based on market visibility and insight.
• COVID-19 has led to levels of market volatility never before seen. The OVX Index, a
measure of market volatility derived from the price of option products, which usually
hovers in the mid-double digits, peaked at almost 350 in April when the price of WTI
futures was briefly negative. No one knew how low demand and prices would go or what
might happen next, and buyers and sellers were all scrambling for protection.
• Market volatility has settled into a range that’s consistent with pre-crisis levels.
Production was trimmed quickly based on economics and politics, and OPEC members
have carefully managed production to meet demand restoration, while drawing down
inventories. There was a brief uptick in volatility when the current wave of COVID-19
infections began, but OPEC has agreed to delay production to meet demand that has
come in below expectations, a move engineered to (and did) calm the market.
Source: CBOE
Source: Capital IQ
0
500
1,000
1,500
2,000
2,500
3,000
Mar Apr May Jun July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Averagedailytravelers(000s)
Total number of air travelers (US)
2019 2020
Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 7
Vaccine news creates bullish sentiment in oil markets but for
how long?
Market fundamentals
Source: S&P Capital IQ
30
34
38
42
46
50
2-Nov 9-Nov 16-Nov 23-Nov
WTI crude oil prices (US$/bbl)
Announcement of
first highly effective
COVID-19 vaccine
Announcement of
second highly
effective COVID-19
vaccine
Announcement of
third highly effective
COVID-19 vaccine
• During November, WTI crude oil prices increased by nearly 25%. This rally is largely
driven by a run of positive news related to COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness. WTI
reached an eight-month high of US$45.7/bbl during the last week of November on the
announcement of a third highly effective COVID-19 vaccine, driving hopes of global oil
demand recovery in 2021.
• While the markets reacted positively to vaccine news, rallies have stalled as the market
digested the details and the likely impact on oil markets. Questions about the
distribution and storage of vaccines, and the scale and speed of vaccination, remain
unanswered. It will take several months until a significant percentage of the world
population is vaccinated and any meaningful impact on oil demand is apparent.
• The impacts of COVID-19 will continue to expand well into 2021 until vaccine
accessibility is widespread. The world (and the oil market) has adapted to a ratcheting
up of expectations of infection levels and hospitalizations, and it is apparent the
impact on the economy, mobility, oil demand and oil prices has peaked.
Source: US Transportation Security Administration
• Air travel has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Government restrictions on
international movement, economic slowdown and the general fear of virus transmission
in closed spaces have caused the number of air travelers in the US to fall by 73%, from
an average of 2.4 million in 2019 to 0.6 million in 2020.
• According to the EIA, passenger traffic in August was 57% below normal in the US, 64%
below normal in Europe and 40% below normal in China.
• In December, both the IEA and OPEC revised their 2021 crude oil demand forecasts
downward in large part because of sluggish recovery in aviation fuel demand, which in a
normal year accounts for almost 7 mmbpd out of almost 100 mmbpd of global demand.
A sustained, material reduction in jet fuel demand could disrupt the supply-demand
balance for years to come.
• Notwithstanding the possibility of large-scale vaccination, the threat of permanent
changes in air travel habits is a real possibility. Virus fears could persist well beyond the
pandemic, and new ways of working and doing business have emerged that could
become part of the future landscape.
Jet fuel demand could remain muted for years
through
14 Dec
Brent futures
Q1 | January 2021Page 8
Brent futures have increased in
the short term given that
multiple manufactures have
announced highly effective
COVID-19 vaccines and
distribution has begun across
the US and UK. Additionally,
OPEC has continued to delay
production increases to better
align the balance between
supply and demand.
Although this has created an
increase in the short-term Brent
futures, there will be continued
scrutiny on global vaccine
acceptance and distribution,
changes in mobility patterns,
decarbonization and actions by
OPEC that will continue to
impact medium- to long-term oil
demand.
Futures data is effective as of
11 December 2020.Source: Bloomberg
EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlook
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
US$/bbl
Historical Brent Brent futures - December 2020 Brent futures - September 2020
Q1 | January 2021Page 9
Oil price outlook
For both benchmarks, consultants
(on average) forecast higher oil
prices throughout the forecast
period.
Consultants focus primarily on the analysis of a
long-term sustainable oil price, whereas banks
and brokers balance their views on the basis of
current market conditions.
Consultant ranges include estimates of
recognized market consultants. Where consultant
estimates are updated only annually (for
example, the EIA and the IEA), such estimates are
included within the range of estimates from 2023
onward (or combined with short-term estimates
published by the same consultant) to prevent
near-term ranges being impacted by estimates
that are not considered to reflect current market
dynamics. Brent price estimates derived under
the IEA’s “Stated Policies” and “Sustainable
Development” scenarios (inflation adjusted to
reflect nominal pricing) are reflected within the
consultant ranges from 2023 onward.
Consultant forecasts result in averages of
US$65.4/bbl and US$60.3/bbl for Brent and
WTI, respectively, in 2025.
This data is effective as of 11 December 2020.
EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlook
Note: The wide range of long-term price estimates reflects the degree of uncertainty within the market. Both the lower and upper end of the range provided are supported by the estimates of credible market participants. Given the width
of the range, the average of estimates should be used as a starting point for the assessment or generation of estimates.
Brent:
Average price per bbl forecast in 2025 — consultants
Brent
Bank/broker and consultant price estimates, ranges
and averages
WTI
Bank/broker and consultant price estimates, ranges
and averages
Source: Bloomberg; bank/broker reports; consultants’ websites and reports
US$65.4 WTI: US$60.3
Average price per bbl forecast in 2025 — consultants
40
50
60
70
80
90
2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
US$perbarrel
Bank/broker range Consultants range
Bank/broker average Consultants average
35
45
55
65
75
85
2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
US$perbarrel
Bank/broker range Consultants range
Bank/broker average Consultants average
Q1 | January 2021Page 10
Gas price outlook
The banks and brokers forecasts
(on average) are wider than
consultants for Henry Hub. The
trend is reversed for NBP.
Consultants focus primarily on the analysis of a
long-term sustainable gas price, whereas banks
and brokers balance their views on the basis of
current market conditions.
Consultant ranges include estimates of
recognized market consultants. Where consultant
estimates are updated only annually (for
example, the EIA and the IEA), such estimates are
included within the range of estimates from 2023
onward (or combined with short-term estimates
published by the same consultant) to prevent
near-term ranges being impacted by estimates
that are not considered to reflect current market
dynamics. Henry Hub price estimates derived
under the IEA’s “Stated Policies” and
”Sustainable Development” scenarios (inflation
adjusted to reflect nominal pricing) are reflected
within the consultant ranges from 2023 onward.
NBP price estimates are scarce, with only five
and four forecasts released by banks and brokers
and consultants, respectively.
This data is effective as of 11 December 2020.
EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlook
Note: The wide range of long-term price estimates reflects the degree of uncertainty within the market. Both the lower and upper end of the range provided are supported by the estimates of credible market participants. Given the width
of the range, the average of estimates should be used as a starting point for the assessment or generation of estimates.
*NBP: National Balancing Point
Henry Hub:
Average price per MMBtu forecast in 2025 — consultants
UK NBP:
Average price per therm forecast in 2025 — consultants
Henry Hub
Bank/broker and consultant price estimates, ranges
and averages
UK NBP
Bank/broker and consultant price estimates, ranges
and averages
US$3.1 GBp44.6
Source: Bloomberg; bank/broker reports; consultants’ websites and reports.
1.5
2.0
2.5
3.0
3.5
4.0
2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
US$perMMbtu
Bank/broker range Consultants range
Bank/broker average Consultants average
25
30
35
40
45
50
55
2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
GBppertherm
Bank/broker range Consultants range
Bank/broker average Consultants average
Appendix
Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 11
Brent oil price estimates
This data is effective as of 11 December 2020.
Source: Bloomberg; bank/broker reports
*Certain price estimates included within the summary above may reflect real vs. nominal pricing as the bank/broker assumptions are not explicitly stated within Bloomberg or the respective reports.
Source: Consultants’ websites and reports; Oxford Economics
Bank/broker 2021 (US$/bbl) 2022 (US$/bbl) 2023 (US$/bbl) 2024 (US$/bbl) 2025 (US$/bbl)
High 56.0 61.0 65.0 65.0 —
Average 48.2 54.7 56.9 59.0 —
Median 48.0 55.0 58.0 60.0 —
Low 44.0 48.0 50.0 51.0 —
Consultant 2021 (US$/bbl) 2022 (US$/bbl) 2023 (US$/bbl) 2024 (US$/bbl) 2025 (US$/bbl)
High 50.3 64.0 72.2 76.9 80.6
Average 47.4 54.9 61.2 63.8 65.4
Median 48.0 54.1 58.4 60.7 62.8
Low 45.0 50.0 55.0 56.1 57.2
Note: Consultant ranges include estimates of recognized market consultants. Where consultant estimates are updated only annually (for example, the EIA and the IEA), such estimates are included within the range of estimates from 2023
onward (or combined with short-term estimates published by the same consultant) to prevent near-term ranges being impacted by estimates that are not considered to reflect current market dynamics. Price estimates derived under the
IEA’s “Stated Policies” and “Sustainable Development” scenarios (inflation adjusted to reflect nominal pricing) are reflected within the consultant ranges from 2023 onward.
Appendix
Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 12
WTI oil price estimates
This data is effective as of 11 December 2020.
Bank/broker 2021 (US$/bbl) 2022 (US$/bbl) 2023 (US$/bbl) 2024 (US$/bbl) 2025 (US$/bbl)
High 54.0 59.0 58.8 62.0 —
Average 45.4 50.4 51.7 54.9 —
Median 45.0 51.0 51.0 55.0 —
Low 40.4 40.4 46.0 47.0 —
Source: Bloomberg; banks and brokers reports
*Certain price estimates included within the summary above may reflect real vs. nominal pricing as the bank/broker assumptions are not explicitly stated within Bloomberg or the respective reports.
Consultant 2021 (US$/bbl) 2022 (US$/bbl) 2023 (US$/bbl) 2024 (US$/bbl) 2025 (US$/bbl)
High 47.9 59.6 65.4 74.0 77.5
Average 45.0 51.9 55.9 58.9 60.3
Median 45.0 50.7 53.0 56.0 57.3
Low 43.0 47.5 52.0 53.1 54.1
Source: Consultants’ websites and reports; Oxford Economics; EY analysis
Note: Consultant ranges include estimates of recognized market consultants. Where consultant estimates are updated only annually (for example, the EIA), such estimates are included within the range of estimates from 2023 onward (or
combined with short-term estimates published by the same consultant) to prevent near-term ranges being impacted by estimates that are not considered to reflect current market dynamics.
Appendix
Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 13
Henry Hub gas price estimates
This data is effective as of 11 December 2020.
Source: Bloomberg; banks and brokers reports
* Where brokers have reported figures in US$/mcf, we have used a conversion ratio of 1.037 for mcf conversion to MMBtu.
**Certain price estimates included within the summary above may reflect real vs. nominal pricing as the bank/broker assumptions are not explicitly stated within Bloomberg or the respective reports.
Source: Consultants’ websites and reports; Oxford Economics
Bank/broker 2021 (US$/MMBtu) 2022 (US$/MMBtu) 2023 (US$/MMBtu) 2024 (US$/MMBtu) 2025 (US$/MMBtu)
High 3.4 3.5 3.8 3.8 —
Average 2.7 2.7 2.8 2.9 —
Median 2.7 2.7 2.8 2.8 —
Low 2.0 2.0 2.3 2.5 —
Consultant 2021 (US$/MMBtu) 2022 (US$/MMBtu) 2023 (US$/MMBtu) 2024 (US$/MMBtu) 2025 (US$/MMBtu)
High 3.1 3.1 3.4 3.6 3.9
Average 3.0 2.9 2.9 3.0 3.1
Median 3.0 2.8 2.9 2.9 3.0
Low 2.8 2.5 2.4 2.4 2.3
Note: Consultant ranges include estimates of recognized market consultants. Where consultant estimates are updated only annually (for example, the EIA and the IEA), such estimates are included within the range of estimates from 2023
onward (or combined with short-term estimates published by the same consultant) to prevent near-term ranges being impacted by estimates that are not considered to reflect current market dynamics. Price estimates derived under the
IEA’s “Stated Policies” and “Sustainable Development” scenarios (inflation adjusted to reflect nominal pricing) are reflected within the consultant ranges from 2023 onward.
Appendix
Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 14
NBP gas price estimates
This data is effective as of 11 December 2020.
Bank/broker 2021 (GBp/therm) 2022 (GBp/therm) 2023 (GBp/therm) 2024 (GBp/therm) 2025 (GBp/therm)
High 35.0 42.8 45.0 50.0 —
Average 31.5 36.2 41.1 42.9 —
Median 32.1 35.5 41.3 39.7 —
Low 27.5 27.5 37.0 39.0 —
Consultant 2021 (GBp/therm) 2022 (GBp/therm) 2023 (GBp/therm) 2024 (GBp/therm) 2025 (GBp/therm)
High 40.0 45.0 47.1 51.3 51.8
Average 34.4 39.4 41.7 43.5 44.6
Median 34.3 40.3 43.7 45.1 46.5
Low 29.1 31.8 32.4 32.8 33.6
Source: Bloomberg; banks and brokers reports
* Where brokers have reported figures in US$/mcf, we have used a conversion ratio of 1.037 for mcf conversion to MMBtu and the brokers’ forecasted FX rates.
**Certain price estimates included within the summary above may reflect real vs. nominal pricing as the bank and broker assumptions are not explicitly stated within Bloomberg or the respective reports.
Source: Consultants’ websites and reports; Oxford Economics
* Where consultants have reported figures in US$/MMBtu, we have used the particular consultants' forecast FX rate for the purpose of our conversion.
Note: Consultant ranges include estimates of recognized market consultants. Where consultant estimates are updated only annually, such estimates are included within the range of estimates from 2023 onward (or combined with short-
term estimates published by the same consultant) to prevent near-term ranges being impacted by estimates that are not considered to reflect current market dynamics.
Key contacts
Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 15
Important notice
Price outlook data included in this publication is effective as of 11 December 2020. Given the rapidly evolving nature of
the market and views of market participants, analysis can quickly become outdated. It should be noted that EY analysis
is not for the purpose of providing an independent view of the outlook for oil and gas prices. Instead, we are collating
the views of market participants.
Price outlook data should not be applied mechanistically. Instead, careful consideration should be given to the purpose
of any value assessment, with price forecasts assessed in the context of other key assumptions, such as resources and
reserves classification, production rates, discount rates and cost escalation rates, together with an appreciation of the
key sensitivities in any such analysis.
Gary Donald
EY Global Oil & Gas
Assurance Leader
+44 20 7951 7518
Derek Leith
EY Global Oil & Gas
Tax Leader
+44 12 2465 3246
Andy Brogan
EY Global Oil & Gas
Leader
+44 20 7951 7009
John Hartung
EY Americas Oil & Gas
Strategy & Transactions
Leader
+1 713 751 2114
Anne Schot
EY Global Oil & Gas
Strategy and Operations
Leader
+852 2846 9882
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Working across assurance, consulting, law, strategy, tax and transactions, EY
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How EY’s Global Oil & Gas team can help you
As changing demand and pricing volatility transforms the oil and gas industry,
companies must reshape to thrive in this new energy world. But how do you
balance the immediate cost and regulatory pressures of “now” with
investment in what comes “next?” EY’s Global Oil & Gas team brings together
the breadth of experience and talent needed to approach the entire
transformation process. By considering four key pillars of change — structure
and culture, customers, technology, and skills and capabilities — we can help
you adapt for today and reap the opportunities of tomorrow. And together we
can build a better working world.
© 2021 EYGM Limited.
All Rights Reserved.
EYG no. 000037-21Gbl
CSG no. 2012-3676428
ED None
This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied
upon as legal, accounting, tax or other professional advice. Please refer to your advisors for specific
advice.
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EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlook

  • 1. EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlook Q1 | January 2021
  • 2. Q1 overview Gary Donald EY Global Oil & Gas Assurance Leader gdonald@uk.ey.com Andy Brogan EY Global Oil & Gas Leader abrogan@uk.ey.com Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 2 We enter 2021 on a note of cautious optimism for global health, the world economy, and the oil and gas markets. The first weeks of December brought approval in the US and the UK of the first of several COVID-19 vaccines. The speed with which vaccine development occurred is unprecedented, but certainly welcome. In the weeks following the early November announcement of 90+% effectiveness by the manufacturer of the first approved vaccine, the price of WTI crude oil increased by US$10/bbl to US$48/bbl, the highest level since early March. Sustainability hasn’t returned yet, and whatever time it takes to get the world to normal, it will take even longer for normalization within the oil and gas markets. Inventories remain at historically high levels and, optimistically, it will take until April before inventory returns to levels observed in the preceding five years. That’s an estimate, and there has obviously been some difficulty properly calibrating the expectations of how balance will return and how long it will take. In late November, OPEC met to adjust its output plans because of the anemic rebound in demand. In mid-December, the IEA lowered its demand forecast for 2021 due mostly to continued sluggishness in aviation fuel demand. A mild winter has interrupted a recovery in North American natural gas prices after a run-up motivated by curtailed capital expenditures, upstream activity and production. After an initial meltdown, with cargo cancellations and dramatic price reversal, LNG markets have made a remarkable comeback, and the spread between Asia and Henry Hub has reached a level we haven’t seen in almost three years. It may be the case that interruption in FIDs has brought us to the cusp of a balance that can support reliable returns.
  • 3. • Can market confidence be sustained until COVID-19 vaccination programs start to bend the curve on cases? • Can OPEC supply discipline hold until they do? • Have LNG markets turned the corner or is the uptick in prices an aberration? • How much lower might US gas (and oil) production go until capital comes back (if it does)? Q1 theme ?Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 3 The theme for this quarter is guarded. While it appears the world is about to come around a corner, we have no idea just how wide the turn might be. While vaccine development was a Herculean challenge, deployment could be challenging and time consuming. The logistics of transporting and storing the first vaccines are daunting, full effectiveness requires two doses spaced several weeks apart and the public’s attitudes toward vaccine safety have yet to be tested. Most of the vaccine doses that we know can be produced in the early part of next year have been spoken for by frontline medical staff, the elderly and other high-risk individuals. Epidemiologists predict case loads and hospitalizations won’t go down quickly, and the markets were rattled by the emergence of a new coronavirus strain in the UK. However, the prospect of an eventual return to normal might be enough to sustain market confidence until they do. LNG markets, stuck at unsustainable levels even before the pandemic, are showing signs of life. Chinese gas demand is expected to grow 10% from last year, and the relatively light second wave of COVID-19 in Asia (less than one-fifth of the new cases but well over half of the world’s population), the rapid recovery of the Asian economy and the rebound in gas demand may have caught the market by surprise. It is possible demand growth, coupled with the pause in investment, may provide an opportunity for long-lived balance. US gas markets, mostly stable through the crisis, showed strength before it became apparent warm weather would dampen demand. Capital has been constrained, gas-directed rigs are at historic lows, and production is about 10 Bcf/day lower than it was at its peak. Investors were hopeful markets might tighten up for the winter, but that didn’t happen. January futures have fallen US90 cents/MMBtu.
  • 4. Q1 trends EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 4 Q1 | January 2021 LNG markets show signs of rebalancing In rapid succession, COVID-19 vaccines were approved for distribution in the US and UK. The return to normal is still distant, but the oil market has begun to price it in. Vaccine news leads oil market rally Aviation fuel has been the hardest-hit segment of oil demand. It remains to be seen how soon vacationers and business travelers will get back in the air when large-scale vaccination occurs and the threat of disease has abated. Aviation fuel demand slow to recover LNG spreads are at levels not seen in the last three years. The rapid recovery of the Asian economy, the onset of winter and the pause in FIDs have conspired to accelerate the process of balancing supply and demand. Measured equity market response to IOC transition ambitions The immediate impact of COVID-19 on oil economics and the uncertainties created by energy transition have led many oil companies to consider strategic alternatives to hydrocarbons. Share prices have yet to respond in a way that suggests investors are seeing oil companies as anything other than oil companies.
  • 5. 0 2 4 6 8 10 Regional gas prices (US$/MMBtu) TR NE Asia LNG spot TTF front month Henry Hub front month Market fundamentals Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 5 Oil demand and supply recover in lockstep • Supply-demand balance in the global oil markets since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has been remarkably stable after the initial shock of losing 20 million barrels per day (mmbpd) of demand in the wave of infections and lockdowns that began in March. Recovery has been slow but relatively steady, and the US EIA projects demand in December 2020 will be within 5 mmbpd of where it was in December 2019. • Crude oil production in the US bottomed out in May at about 2.5 mmbpd less than it’s peak of 12.5 mmbpd in November 2019. Economics have prevailed. Marginal production has been shut in, and exploration and development have been cut to a bare minimum. Output has recovered slightly, but capital investment cuts have (and will) get in the way of production growth, which makes it unlikely production will recover to output levels projected before the crisis. • OPEC, as in previous cycles, has played the role of the market balancer and has restored just enough production to meet demand recovery. A recent agreement delayed planned production increases in response to the slower than expected demand rebound. Source: US EIASource: Refinitiv • The global LNG market is rebalancing with regional gas price spreads higher than before the virus outbreak. The difference between Asian LNG spot prices and US Henry Hub has increased ~35x from US$0.2/MMBtu in May to US$7/MMBtu in December, representing the highest spread in three years. • Asian LNG spot prices have risen more rapidly than other regions globally as colder than predicted winters boosted LNG demand. Gas stocks in Europe peaked (at 98% of capacity) in late October and are 80% full as of this writing. US gas prices are up annually but still below the five-year average as warm weather continues to confound the market’s demand expectations. • A pause in sanctioning new LNG capacity, coupled with delays in projects under development, could cause markets to tighten further. • While an LNG deal between a US seller and a Chinese buyer signaled a revival of long- term LNG trade between the countries, uncertainty still exists as the US has imposed new sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Europe. Regional gas price spread widens with winter weather
  • 6. 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov IndexedtoJanuary2020 IOC vs Green Energy Equity Performance European IOCs American IOCs NASDAQ Clean Edge Green Energy Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 6 Market fundamentals Equity markets discount IOC commitment to green energy Peak oil market volatility has come and gone 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec OVX Index • The COVID-19 crisis, low oil prices and sub-par returns on hydrocarbon assets, in combination with public and investor pressure to reduce carbon footprints, have caused some oil majors to rethink their single-minded and long-standing commitment to petroleum. Those businesses have performed well for most of a century, but times are changing and almost all of the majors have begun to explore and, in some cases, make significant capital commitments to electricity and renewable generation assets. • The IOC commitment to low-carbon energy has been uneven and has cut along geographic lines. European majors have made the strongest and most public commitments, while North American majors have been more hesitant and have chosen to focus on their core businesses. It has truly been a tale of two hemispheres. • As of now, there is no clear sign of a positive investor response to aggressive transition strategies. Post-COVID-19, green energy stocks have performed spectacularly, while US and European oil equities have traded in near-lockstep with each other. • The lifeblood of commodity trading businesses is market volatility. It’s exploited by earning a bid-offer spread, which widens when the market is moving violently, and by offering (at a profit) risk management products (such as options and structured products) to energy producers and end users and also by taking speculative positions based on market visibility and insight. • COVID-19 has led to levels of market volatility never before seen. The OVX Index, a measure of market volatility derived from the price of option products, which usually hovers in the mid-double digits, peaked at almost 350 in April when the price of WTI futures was briefly negative. No one knew how low demand and prices would go or what might happen next, and buyers and sellers were all scrambling for protection. • Market volatility has settled into a range that’s consistent with pre-crisis levels. Production was trimmed quickly based on economics and politics, and OPEC members have carefully managed production to meet demand restoration, while drawing down inventories. There was a brief uptick in volatility when the current wave of COVID-19 infections began, but OPEC has agreed to delay production to meet demand that has come in below expectations, a move engineered to (and did) calm the market. Source: CBOE Source: Capital IQ
  • 7. 0 500 1,000 1,500 2,000 2,500 3,000 Mar Apr May Jun July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Averagedailytravelers(000s) Total number of air travelers (US) 2019 2020 Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 7 Vaccine news creates bullish sentiment in oil markets but for how long? Market fundamentals Source: S&P Capital IQ 30 34 38 42 46 50 2-Nov 9-Nov 16-Nov 23-Nov WTI crude oil prices (US$/bbl) Announcement of first highly effective COVID-19 vaccine Announcement of second highly effective COVID-19 vaccine Announcement of third highly effective COVID-19 vaccine • During November, WTI crude oil prices increased by nearly 25%. This rally is largely driven by a run of positive news related to COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness. WTI reached an eight-month high of US$45.7/bbl during the last week of November on the announcement of a third highly effective COVID-19 vaccine, driving hopes of global oil demand recovery in 2021. • While the markets reacted positively to vaccine news, rallies have stalled as the market digested the details and the likely impact on oil markets. Questions about the distribution and storage of vaccines, and the scale and speed of vaccination, remain unanswered. It will take several months until a significant percentage of the world population is vaccinated and any meaningful impact on oil demand is apparent. • The impacts of COVID-19 will continue to expand well into 2021 until vaccine accessibility is widespread. The world (and the oil market) has adapted to a ratcheting up of expectations of infection levels and hospitalizations, and it is apparent the impact on the economy, mobility, oil demand and oil prices has peaked. Source: US Transportation Security Administration • Air travel has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Government restrictions on international movement, economic slowdown and the general fear of virus transmission in closed spaces have caused the number of air travelers in the US to fall by 73%, from an average of 2.4 million in 2019 to 0.6 million in 2020. • According to the EIA, passenger traffic in August was 57% below normal in the US, 64% below normal in Europe and 40% below normal in China. • In December, both the IEA and OPEC revised their 2021 crude oil demand forecasts downward in large part because of sluggish recovery in aviation fuel demand, which in a normal year accounts for almost 7 mmbpd out of almost 100 mmbpd of global demand. A sustained, material reduction in jet fuel demand could disrupt the supply-demand balance for years to come. • Notwithstanding the possibility of large-scale vaccination, the threat of permanent changes in air travel habits is a real possibility. Virus fears could persist well beyond the pandemic, and new ways of working and doing business have emerged that could become part of the future landscape. Jet fuel demand could remain muted for years through 14 Dec
  • 8. Brent futures Q1 | January 2021Page 8 Brent futures have increased in the short term given that multiple manufactures have announced highly effective COVID-19 vaccines and distribution has begun across the US and UK. Additionally, OPEC has continued to delay production increases to better align the balance between supply and demand. Although this has created an increase in the short-term Brent futures, there will be continued scrutiny on global vaccine acceptance and distribution, changes in mobility patterns, decarbonization and actions by OPEC that will continue to impact medium- to long-term oil demand. Futures data is effective as of 11 December 2020.Source: Bloomberg EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlook 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 US$/bbl Historical Brent Brent futures - December 2020 Brent futures - September 2020
  • 9. Q1 | January 2021Page 9 Oil price outlook For both benchmarks, consultants (on average) forecast higher oil prices throughout the forecast period. Consultants focus primarily on the analysis of a long-term sustainable oil price, whereas banks and brokers balance their views on the basis of current market conditions. Consultant ranges include estimates of recognized market consultants. Where consultant estimates are updated only annually (for example, the EIA and the IEA), such estimates are included within the range of estimates from 2023 onward (or combined with short-term estimates published by the same consultant) to prevent near-term ranges being impacted by estimates that are not considered to reflect current market dynamics. Brent price estimates derived under the IEA’s “Stated Policies” and “Sustainable Development” scenarios (inflation adjusted to reflect nominal pricing) are reflected within the consultant ranges from 2023 onward. Consultant forecasts result in averages of US$65.4/bbl and US$60.3/bbl for Brent and WTI, respectively, in 2025. This data is effective as of 11 December 2020. EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlook Note: The wide range of long-term price estimates reflects the degree of uncertainty within the market. Both the lower and upper end of the range provided are supported by the estimates of credible market participants. Given the width of the range, the average of estimates should be used as a starting point for the assessment or generation of estimates. Brent: Average price per bbl forecast in 2025 — consultants Brent Bank/broker and consultant price estimates, ranges and averages WTI Bank/broker and consultant price estimates, ranges and averages Source: Bloomberg; bank/broker reports; consultants’ websites and reports US$65.4 WTI: US$60.3 Average price per bbl forecast in 2025 — consultants 40 50 60 70 80 90 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 US$perbarrel Bank/broker range Consultants range Bank/broker average Consultants average 35 45 55 65 75 85 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 US$perbarrel Bank/broker range Consultants range Bank/broker average Consultants average
  • 10. Q1 | January 2021Page 10 Gas price outlook The banks and brokers forecasts (on average) are wider than consultants for Henry Hub. The trend is reversed for NBP. Consultants focus primarily on the analysis of a long-term sustainable gas price, whereas banks and brokers balance their views on the basis of current market conditions. Consultant ranges include estimates of recognized market consultants. Where consultant estimates are updated only annually (for example, the EIA and the IEA), such estimates are included within the range of estimates from 2023 onward (or combined with short-term estimates published by the same consultant) to prevent near-term ranges being impacted by estimates that are not considered to reflect current market dynamics. Henry Hub price estimates derived under the IEA’s “Stated Policies” and ”Sustainable Development” scenarios (inflation adjusted to reflect nominal pricing) are reflected within the consultant ranges from 2023 onward. NBP price estimates are scarce, with only five and four forecasts released by banks and brokers and consultants, respectively. This data is effective as of 11 December 2020. EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlook Note: The wide range of long-term price estimates reflects the degree of uncertainty within the market. Both the lower and upper end of the range provided are supported by the estimates of credible market participants. Given the width of the range, the average of estimates should be used as a starting point for the assessment or generation of estimates. *NBP: National Balancing Point Henry Hub: Average price per MMBtu forecast in 2025 — consultants UK NBP: Average price per therm forecast in 2025 — consultants Henry Hub Bank/broker and consultant price estimates, ranges and averages UK NBP Bank/broker and consultant price estimates, ranges and averages US$3.1 GBp44.6 Source: Bloomberg; bank/broker reports; consultants’ websites and reports. 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 US$perMMbtu Bank/broker range Consultants range Bank/broker average Consultants average 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 GBppertherm Bank/broker range Consultants range Bank/broker average Consultants average
  • 11. Appendix Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 11 Brent oil price estimates This data is effective as of 11 December 2020. Source: Bloomberg; bank/broker reports *Certain price estimates included within the summary above may reflect real vs. nominal pricing as the bank/broker assumptions are not explicitly stated within Bloomberg or the respective reports. Source: Consultants’ websites and reports; Oxford Economics Bank/broker 2021 (US$/bbl) 2022 (US$/bbl) 2023 (US$/bbl) 2024 (US$/bbl) 2025 (US$/bbl) High 56.0 61.0 65.0 65.0 — Average 48.2 54.7 56.9 59.0 — Median 48.0 55.0 58.0 60.0 — Low 44.0 48.0 50.0 51.0 — Consultant 2021 (US$/bbl) 2022 (US$/bbl) 2023 (US$/bbl) 2024 (US$/bbl) 2025 (US$/bbl) High 50.3 64.0 72.2 76.9 80.6 Average 47.4 54.9 61.2 63.8 65.4 Median 48.0 54.1 58.4 60.7 62.8 Low 45.0 50.0 55.0 56.1 57.2 Note: Consultant ranges include estimates of recognized market consultants. Where consultant estimates are updated only annually (for example, the EIA and the IEA), such estimates are included within the range of estimates from 2023 onward (or combined with short-term estimates published by the same consultant) to prevent near-term ranges being impacted by estimates that are not considered to reflect current market dynamics. Price estimates derived under the IEA’s “Stated Policies” and “Sustainable Development” scenarios (inflation adjusted to reflect nominal pricing) are reflected within the consultant ranges from 2023 onward.
  • 12. Appendix Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 12 WTI oil price estimates This data is effective as of 11 December 2020. Bank/broker 2021 (US$/bbl) 2022 (US$/bbl) 2023 (US$/bbl) 2024 (US$/bbl) 2025 (US$/bbl) High 54.0 59.0 58.8 62.0 — Average 45.4 50.4 51.7 54.9 — Median 45.0 51.0 51.0 55.0 — Low 40.4 40.4 46.0 47.0 — Source: Bloomberg; banks and brokers reports *Certain price estimates included within the summary above may reflect real vs. nominal pricing as the bank/broker assumptions are not explicitly stated within Bloomberg or the respective reports. Consultant 2021 (US$/bbl) 2022 (US$/bbl) 2023 (US$/bbl) 2024 (US$/bbl) 2025 (US$/bbl) High 47.9 59.6 65.4 74.0 77.5 Average 45.0 51.9 55.9 58.9 60.3 Median 45.0 50.7 53.0 56.0 57.3 Low 43.0 47.5 52.0 53.1 54.1 Source: Consultants’ websites and reports; Oxford Economics; EY analysis Note: Consultant ranges include estimates of recognized market consultants. Where consultant estimates are updated only annually (for example, the EIA), such estimates are included within the range of estimates from 2023 onward (or combined with short-term estimates published by the same consultant) to prevent near-term ranges being impacted by estimates that are not considered to reflect current market dynamics.
  • 13. Appendix Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 13 Henry Hub gas price estimates This data is effective as of 11 December 2020. Source: Bloomberg; banks and brokers reports * Where brokers have reported figures in US$/mcf, we have used a conversion ratio of 1.037 for mcf conversion to MMBtu. **Certain price estimates included within the summary above may reflect real vs. nominal pricing as the bank/broker assumptions are not explicitly stated within Bloomberg or the respective reports. Source: Consultants’ websites and reports; Oxford Economics Bank/broker 2021 (US$/MMBtu) 2022 (US$/MMBtu) 2023 (US$/MMBtu) 2024 (US$/MMBtu) 2025 (US$/MMBtu) High 3.4 3.5 3.8 3.8 — Average 2.7 2.7 2.8 2.9 — Median 2.7 2.7 2.8 2.8 — Low 2.0 2.0 2.3 2.5 — Consultant 2021 (US$/MMBtu) 2022 (US$/MMBtu) 2023 (US$/MMBtu) 2024 (US$/MMBtu) 2025 (US$/MMBtu) High 3.1 3.1 3.4 3.6 3.9 Average 3.0 2.9 2.9 3.0 3.1 Median 3.0 2.8 2.9 2.9 3.0 Low 2.8 2.5 2.4 2.4 2.3 Note: Consultant ranges include estimates of recognized market consultants. Where consultant estimates are updated only annually (for example, the EIA and the IEA), such estimates are included within the range of estimates from 2023 onward (or combined with short-term estimates published by the same consultant) to prevent near-term ranges being impacted by estimates that are not considered to reflect current market dynamics. Price estimates derived under the IEA’s “Stated Policies” and “Sustainable Development” scenarios (inflation adjusted to reflect nominal pricing) are reflected within the consultant ranges from 2023 onward.
  • 14. Appendix Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 14 NBP gas price estimates This data is effective as of 11 December 2020. Bank/broker 2021 (GBp/therm) 2022 (GBp/therm) 2023 (GBp/therm) 2024 (GBp/therm) 2025 (GBp/therm) High 35.0 42.8 45.0 50.0 — Average 31.5 36.2 41.1 42.9 — Median 32.1 35.5 41.3 39.7 — Low 27.5 27.5 37.0 39.0 — Consultant 2021 (GBp/therm) 2022 (GBp/therm) 2023 (GBp/therm) 2024 (GBp/therm) 2025 (GBp/therm) High 40.0 45.0 47.1 51.3 51.8 Average 34.4 39.4 41.7 43.5 44.6 Median 34.3 40.3 43.7 45.1 46.5 Low 29.1 31.8 32.4 32.8 33.6 Source: Bloomberg; banks and brokers reports * Where brokers have reported figures in US$/mcf, we have used a conversion ratio of 1.037 for mcf conversion to MMBtu and the brokers’ forecasted FX rates. **Certain price estimates included within the summary above may reflect real vs. nominal pricing as the bank and broker assumptions are not explicitly stated within Bloomberg or the respective reports. Source: Consultants’ websites and reports; Oxford Economics * Where consultants have reported figures in US$/MMBtu, we have used the particular consultants' forecast FX rate for the purpose of our conversion. Note: Consultant ranges include estimates of recognized market consultants. Where consultant estimates are updated only annually, such estimates are included within the range of estimates from 2023 onward (or combined with short- term estimates published by the same consultant) to prevent near-term ranges being impacted by estimates that are not considered to reflect current market dynamics.
  • 15. Key contacts Q1 | January 2021 EY Price Point: global oil and gas market outlookPage 15 Important notice Price outlook data included in this publication is effective as of 11 December 2020. Given the rapidly evolving nature of the market and views of market participants, analysis can quickly become outdated. It should be noted that EY analysis is not for the purpose of providing an independent view of the outlook for oil and gas prices. Instead, we are collating the views of market participants. Price outlook data should not be applied mechanistically. Instead, careful consideration should be given to the purpose of any value assessment, with price forecasts assessed in the context of other key assumptions, such as resources and reserves classification, production rates, discount rates and cost escalation rates, together with an appreciation of the key sensitivities in any such analysis. Gary Donald EY Global Oil & Gas Assurance Leader +44 20 7951 7518 Derek Leith EY Global Oil & Gas Tax Leader +44 12 2465 3246 Andy Brogan EY Global Oil & Gas Leader +44 20 7951 7009 John Hartung EY Americas Oil & Gas Strategy & Transactions Leader +1 713 751 2114 Anne Schot EY Global Oil & Gas Strategy and Operations Leader +852 2846 9882
  • 16. EY | Building a better working world EY exists to build a better working world, helping create long-term value for clients, people and society and build trust in the capital markets. Enabled by data and technology, diverse EY teams in over 150 countries provide trust through assurance and help clients grow, transform and operate. Working across assurance, consulting, law, strategy, tax and transactions, EY teams ask better questions to find new answers for the complex issues facing our world today. EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. Information about how EY collects and uses personal data and a description of the rights individuals have under data protection legislation are available via ey.com/privacy. EY member firms do not practice law where prohibited by local laws. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com. How EY’s Global Oil & Gas team can help you As changing demand and pricing volatility transforms the oil and gas industry, companies must reshape to thrive in this new energy world. But how do you balance the immediate cost and regulatory pressures of “now” with investment in what comes “next?” EY’s Global Oil & Gas team brings together the breadth of experience and talent needed to approach the entire transformation process. By considering four key pillars of change — structure and culture, customers, technology, and skills and capabilities — we can help you adapt for today and reap the opportunities of tomorrow. And together we can build a better working world. © 2021 EYGM Limited. All Rights Reserved. EYG no. 000037-21Gbl CSG no. 2012-3676428 ED None This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as legal, accounting, tax or other professional advice. Please refer to your advisors for specific advice. ey.com