Updated on May 13, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What is Netback?

Netback or Operating Netback is a calculation which is generally used in the oil and gas industry which is used to measure the oil and gas sales revenue by a netting of the royalties received and other costs related to production and transportation, i.e., it is a non-GAAP KPI which is exclusively used in the oil and gas industry to act like a benchmark performance indicator to demonstrate the performance comparison between competitors, operations and period.


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Key Takeaways

  • Netback or operating netback is a computation used in the oil and gas industry. It estimates the oil and gas sales revenue by royalties netting received and other costs concerning production and transportation.
  • It is for the oil and gas industry only. The gross profit per barrel can be stated as gross profit.
  • It is a non-GAAP tool. Therefore, different companies can use various techniques to calculate the netback. However, the primary benefit of netback is that it allows companies to plan strategically on the product they should concentrate on producing.

Features of Netback

  • It is specific to the oil and gas industry only.
  • Netback is a layman’s word that gross profit per barrel can be described as gross profit.
  • It can be used as a benchmark index to compare two oil company competitors.
  • It also allows the analyst to compare the operations of two oil producers.
  • It is a non-GAAP measure, so it means different companies can use different techniques to arrive at the netback calculation.
  • It shows how efficient a company is in extracting oil/gas and selling it as a commodity/product.

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How to Calculate?

Netback Formula = Price (Sales Revenue) – Royalties – Production Cost – Transportation Cost

Thus, it gives us the gross profit per barrel of oil where the sales obtained or the revenue generated from selling per barrel of oil is considered the barrel’s price. We need to deduct the royalties paid for selling the oil. The overall production cost involved starting from the extraction of oil to selling it, and finally, the transportation cost to supply the oil/gas to end consumers. After deducting all the three factors mentioned above from the sales revenue, we finally arrive at the gross profit earned per barrel of oil, the Netback.


A basic example can be explained in a scenario where suppose Aramco world’s largest oil-producing company has its operation in Saudi Arabia, where it extracts oil to supply all around the globe. Let us assume for every barrel of oil which it extracts. It pays $10 as royalties, $15 as production cost, i.e., mainly consumed in oil extraction, and $10 as the transportation cost to supply the oil. Now let us consider per barrel of oil selling at $120.

Netback Formula = Price (Sales Revenue) – Royalties – Production Cost – Transportation Cost

  • = $120 – ($10+$15+$10)
  • = $85

Thus we can say Aramco’s operating Netback is $85, and this can be used as a comparison benchmark with other players or competitors to compare their operation efficiency.

Netback Agreement

Oil and gas producing companies have gone to an extent where they are selling their products under netback agreements. This contract or agreement assures the customer or the buyer of oil/gas of a commercial margin or cut-off while also assuring floor prices for the producing companies to cover up the cost of production. It leads to a win-win situation for both parties. Again some are worried about such an agreement because during the 1980s, a similar kind of agreement by oil producers who were having a surplus of oil and were eager to sell the same in the market resulted in a drastic drop in the prices of oil as netback pricing forced the refiners to maintain its business irrespective of the sharp drop in oil prices.


  • It is used as one of the most efficient benchmark indices or KPI measures in the oil and gas industry.
  • It is useful when we want to compare the performance of two different players in the oil/gas industry.
  • It helps assess a company without the impact of non-operating costs and other financing costs.
  • It acts as a type of efficiency ratio research analyst who is covering the company’s position.
  • By keeping track of the netback/BOE over some time, we can evaluate the efficiency of the producer’s production, selling, and transportation capacity.
  • A high number of the netback/BOE will show how a business is coping with the price volatility in the market, where a higher number suggests that when prices are declining, the company still stays profitable.


  • It is a KPI that helps assess the company’s efficiency and helps in comparing the same with other competitors.
  • It gives us a measure of the gross profit earned per barrel of the sale made.
  • It helps research analysts analyze the company’s financial health and how efficient the production of a company is.
  • It helps exploration and production firms to compare the cost of production with other competitors.
  • The prime advantage is that it helps companies strategically plan on which product the companies should focus on producing.


  • Since it is a non-GAAP measure, different companies may use different formulas and ways of calculation to arrive at the measure.
  • It is a non-standardized method of calculation.
  • The formula does not consider any operating or any fluctuating cost.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does operating netback mean?

Operating netback is a financial metric used in the oil and gas industry to measure the profitability of producing and selling crude oil and natural gas.

Why is netback important in LNG?

An LNG netback price determines an export parity price that a gas supplier can consider receiving for exporting the gas. It is an essential metric in the LNG industry because it helps determine the profitability of a project transaction.

What is the netback value of gas?

The netback value of the gas is the value of the volume for sale ($/MMBtu) minus the transport cost ($/MMBtu). The gas sales price estimates a region’s dominant spot market price and differs daily.

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