A refiner for all seasons

The icy blast of the 2008 financial crisis, a high-cost base, fierce competition from new capacity in the Middle East and Asia, downward demand trends because of stagnant population growth and greater engine efficiency, perverse tax regimes, and the rolling thunder of environmental legislation. To survive as a refiner in Europe requires constant vigilance and frequent reinvention.

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Total’s shelter from the storm

“All the people have complained to me that it was very hard to develop a project in such conditions. But… today’s weather is just perfect – so, I do not understand why you have issues,” Total chief executive Patrick Pouyanne joked at the inauguration ceremony of the Shetland gas plant (SGP) yesterday. It was Pouyanne’s first visit to the Shetlands, the UK’s northernmost inhabited islands, more than 160km north of mainland Scotland.

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ExxonMobil’s TMI issue

With $12bn raised in a recent debt offering and more than $300bn of its own shares held in treasury, ExxonMobil has the dry powder to purchase just about any oil and gas company in the world.  From Anadarko to Devon to even BP, the regular rumblings of an acquisition bid are rarely dismissed completely for one reason – ExxonMobil has the resources to do it.

But chief executive Rex Tillerson told analysts in New York City last week the company is in no hurry when it comes to M&As, and that most potential takeover targets are either overburdened with debt or their stock price diluted by repeated equity sales to raise funds.  Continue reading

Top 10 most notable quotes from 2015

Argus editors in the States have selected the following 10 quotes to sum up the year that was 2015. Apologies to David Letterman.

“It became a symbol too often used as a campaign cudgel by both parties rather than a serious policy matter.  And all of this obscured the fact that this pipeline would neither be a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others.” – President Barack Obama on 6 November rejected Canadian midstream company TransCanada’s proposal to build the 830,000 b/d Keystone XL pipeline, ending a drama that had played out since 2008.  Continue reading

A grim narrative plays out

US independents are bracing for their worst results in years when they begin reporting third quarter earnings in coming weeks. But a bleak oil market outlook raises the question: How much worse can it get?

“The narrative for Q3 earnings season will be grim, both with regard to current industry conditions as well as the threatening visibility heading into 2016,” investment bank Simmons & Company said in a recent note.  Continue reading