UPDATE 1-Despite oil spending cuts in 2016, Mideast and Russia race on
* Global oil firms to slash spending by 20 pct this year
* Middle East, Russia set to increase investments
* Global budgets to drop by $230 bln from 2014 (Recasts, updates throughout)
By Ron Bousso
LONDON, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Oil companies could slash 2016 spending by around 20 percent in the face of a persistent downturn, with North America taking the brunt of the cuts while Middle Eastern and Russian firms are set to raise budgets as their fight for market share continues.
As the industry grapples with its worst downturn in three decades, the crisis that has seen thousands of jobs wiped out and more than $200 billion of projects scrapped last year shows no sign of abating as oil prices flirt with 13-year lows of $30 a barrel, down nearly 70 percent from June 2014.
Global oil and gas companies plan to cut spending on exploration and production by about 15 percent if crude prices trade in the $45-$50 range, but the cuts could be closer to 20 percent if prices hover at $40, Barclays said in its annual survey of 225 companies worldwide.
This year's spending cuts follow a 23 percent reduction last year. It will be only the second time since the survey started in 1985 that budgets have been pared for two consecutive years; the last time was 1987.
In real terms, capital spending is set to drop from $673 billion in 2014 and an estimated $520 billion in 2015 to $444 billion in 2016, according to the survey. Continuación...