Hermes Spectrum - Q3 2017 - Hermes Investment Management

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SPECTRUM Petrobras and Pemex: Putting ESG analysis in the oil mix Audra Stundziaite Senior Credit Analyst, Hermes Credit Jaime Gornsztejn Associate Director – Engagement, Hermes EOS

Hermes Credit Newsletter Q3 2017

For professional investors only


At the surface, the oil industry might appear impervious to the cleansing efforts of responsible investors. But if we drill deeper, it is clear that integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) analysis into investments – and engaging with companies – can deliver both a better financial return and a public good.

Yet in spite of – or perhaps because of – its blatant shortcomings, the oil industry attracts long-term investors who are prepared to engage on ESG matters. Despite rising sales of electric cars and the risk of fossil-fuel deposits becoming stranded assets, the oil industry is not disappearing any time soon. According to OPEC, global oil demand should increase until at least 2040 (see figure 1). That said, even if OPEC’s own growth expectations of 109m barrels of daily intake by 2040 prove to be overly optimistic, engagement on ESG factors – including climate change scenarios – will remain as important as ever. For credit investors, oil companies are a significant presence, as they are the largest debt issuers in the global high-yield market, accounting for approximately 16% of notional debt. With so much at stake, it would be short-sighted to abandon the oil field to disengaged industry participants. And credit investors, like shareholders, need to discuss ESG concerns with oil firms if the industry is to improve. In turn, companies like Petrobras and Pemex, the Brazilian and Mexican stateowned oil majors, are heavily reliant on credit markets for financing and should be compelled to engage with bondholders. Aware of the importance of ESG risk – to credit valuations returns and society – we assess them as part of our fundamental analysis of issuers.1 In doing so, we draw on multiple sources of information, including Hermes’ proprietary ESG Dashboard reports on listed companies and the insights gained by the corporate engagement specialists in Hermes EOS. When we identify a significant ESG risk within a company, we work with Hermes EOS to learn more – what actions are underway to improve the situation, and what are the implications for long-term returns? Two of our recent collaborations with Hermes EOS focused on Petrobas and Pemex, whose debt we invest in. These engagements, which we discuss in this issue of Spectrum, show that ESG factors can add demonstrable value at a time when investors are struggling to discern whether the oil barrel is half full or half empty.

Figure 1: Global oil demand is expected to grow 110

Barrels per day (millions)

Undoubtedly, oil poses more than a few headaches for ESG investors. Besides the obvious high carbon content of petroleum products, the industry as a whole has accrued a reputation as risky across a range of ESG measures. These include: environmental preservation, workers’ health and safety, executive pay and, as demonstrated by the Petrobras scandal, political corruption.




90 2015


2025E 2030E Global oil demand



Source: OPEC 2016 World Oil Outlook

SHALE PUTS OLD OIL ORDER UNDER THE PUMP Oil prices are typically volatile but the last three years have proven especially problematic for investors in the world’s most-traded commodity. From a high of $108 per barrel in June 2014, the benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil price nosedived 50% to just $55 per barrel by December of that year. Following two years of dramatic volatility in oil markets, WTI had halved again by February 2016, bottoming out at $26 a barrel. Investors belatedly attributed the unexpected collapse of the oil price t