Oil & Gas financial management tips

July 24, 2019

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According to the Central Bank’s governor Stephen Poloz, decline in the Oil and Gas sector has had a measurable effect on Canada’s macro-economic outlook. While volatility in the sector is certainly nothing new, the Alberta government’s historic 350,000-barrel curtailment on crude extraction has presented a whole new set of challenges for the industry driven by overly inflated Western Canadian Select and a continued shipment backlog. Initially, the big banks predicted that a higher heavy oil price relative to the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmark would help allay the backlog of crude shipments, but oversupply continues to plague the province regardless of price recovery.

Government manipulation of markets is a risky endeavour, and rarely results in carefully predicted outcomes. Large players Imperial Oil, Husky, and Suncor all warned that government interference would have unanticipated impacts on the sector, and indeed they have proven to be correct. Among those unanticipated results: swollen balance sheets of major producers from strong 1st quarter price recovery. In Q4 of 2018 producers largely planned out cash flow neutral budgets, and investors are watching closely to see what companies will do with the incremental cash flow. The options: investing in further ground projects, focusing returns to shareholders via dividend or buyback, or leaving the cash on company balance sheets.

Regardless of how major producers allocate the gains, over $180 Billion in public and private capital projects above $5 million are either planned or currently under construction in Alberta, and businesses operating in the sector need to prepare themselves to capitalize on opportunities. Those set to action operationally will make initial gains vis-a-vis their competitors, but it’s the businesses that marry their on-the-ground operational sophistication with a streamlined back office support process that will ultimately outlast and outperform their industry rivals.

Source: Statistics Canada and Alberta Economic Development and Trade

Alberta economic dashboard – alberta.ca

Are your operations streamlined?

Although each business within the industry has their own KPI’s, many will face similar difficulties. Essential industry recommended best practices and regulations to ensure strict safety and environmental standards keep business owners on their toes. Adding on the oversight and administration layer of operating a successful oil and gas company can be time consuming and frustrating, especially when it comes to financial reporting, bookkeeping, and payroll. For many business owners, accounting for the day-to-day operations is not their area of expertise.

Oil and gas companies that can improve efficiencies will have a better chance of capitalizing on opportunities from planned investments in the sector.

Financial tips to operate more efficiently and help increase profits

The recent recession means that there is less work available leading to fewer profits. In order to stay ahead, oil and gas companies can innovate and streamline using technology to control excess costs, reduce administrative burden and shift priorities thus improve efficiencies.

Here are three financial tips to help:

Time Ticket Management - Management of daily work and time tickets is one area that is a sore spot for many companies and can drastically affect overall results.

For those companies still on a paper-based system, consider the time and effort required for manual input, which can lead to errors and delays in processing. Recording that information into bookkeeping and payroll systems means more time and effort and possibly further errors. For those that already have digital ticketing solutions, integrating it directly with the bookkeeping system can further reduce any manual errors or lost time processing tickets.

To improve efficiencies for tickets, technology may be the solution. There are several ticket management solutions on the market that can help. Integrating with bookkeeping or other accounting and finance systems can further streamline the process.

Invoicing - Part of running a business includes accounts receivable management: creating and sending invoices in timely and accurate manner, recording the payment when it comes, and following up as needed. This requires significant administrative hours each week.

Consider outsourcing to a qualified bookkeeper. Staff currently responsible for these tasks can create and send invoices then shift their priorities to more urgent tasks like chasing any outstanding receivables. This will boost the health of your cash flow as well as reduce any internal control concerns or possible employee negligence as the burden of responsibility now shifts to your outsourcing partner.

Payroll - Lately, it has been a struggle to find back office support which can often negatively affect processes and place more workload on operations for training and transitioning tasks.

It is critical that your payroll function runs without a hitch. Make sure to research payroll providers, including their customer service or individual account management style. Try to find one with in-depth knowledge of the business and industry-related issues. Year-end compliance and T4/T4a’s are complex. A fully-managed solution removes the worry business owners may face for incorrectly calculating taxable benefits, mitigates risks, and frees up time to focus on growing the business.

For optimal efficiency, it helps to find a solution that encompasses all of the above in one provider, with access to other business advisory support services.

Streamline processes with confidence

BDO helps owners innovative by streamlining processes to ensure key functions like bookkeeping, payroll, accounting, and ticket management systems are working together to drive results using accurate and timely information. Watch this video to find out more.

Our teams have extensive experience solving problems faced by oil and gas companies and help make the transition seamless. Contact our experts today to find out how we can help you manage today’s obstacles and identify tomorrow’s opportunities.