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UPDATE 3-Repsol writes down $1.5 bln as COVID-19 sours oil outlook

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MADRID, July 23 (Reuters) - Spain’s Repsol posted a net loss and wrote down $1.5 billion in assets on Thursday as it presented new expectations for oil and gas prices, following most peers in lowering its projections.

The demand-sapping COVID-19 health crisis has piled pressure on a sector already hurt by oil prices that have been dragged down by tension over supply and a shift to low-carbon energy sources.

BP, Shell and Eni have all written down the value of assets on their balance sheets recently.

Repsol said it now expected Brent crude oil prices to average $59.60 per barrel at today’s prices between 2020 and 2050. It had previously forecast Brent crude to reach $87 per barrel by 2035, adjusting for inflation, higher than most of its rivals’ headline numbers.

The write-down was based on lower price assumptions for 2020 and 2021 - of $43 and $49 per barrel respectively.

A company spokesman said the longer-term change was entirely due to the new calculation being based on current prices.

Different inflation baselines and timelines are used to estimate the direction of oil prices, but Repsol’s change leaves Equinor an outlier, with its forecast $80 a barrel in 2030, in 2019 prices.

Repsol said it would buy back shares and present a new plan in November based on a goal to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, after posting a quarterly loss of 1.997 billion euro ($2.3 billion), which came in better than analysts had expected in adjusted terms.

The company revised down its gas price outlook for 2020 to $2 per million British thermal units, from $3.

Provisions brought the total write-down to 1.44 billion euros.

The company burned cash, with a negative free cash flow of 217 million euros, but said it expected cash flow from operations of 3.6 billion euros this year.

$1 = 0.8629 euros Reporting by Isla Binnie and Jose Elías Rodríguez and Emelia Sithole-Matarise; Editing by Bernadette Baum