Total, the French oil company, blamed Opec cuts for its disappointing production results today, while listing a slew of big projects that are expected to start up and boost its production by the end of the year. Those projects include: Apko in Nigeria, Tahiti in the Gultf of Mexico, Tombua Landana in Angola and liquefied natural gas ventures in Yemen and Qatar. But shareholders, who have enjoyed a better recent ride at Total than those at the company’s rivals, were nevertheless disappointed. Total’s production fell more than 2 per centage points and, as if in sympathy, its share price also lost more than 2 per cent on the news. This, even though its first quarter earnings – down 35 per cent from the same period the year before – beat estimates and its peers BP and Royal Dutch Shell.
Total’s first quarter adjusted net profit fell to E2.11bn from E3.25bn the year before as its sales fell to E30.04bn from E44.21bn.
The oil price was the major culprit, with Brent trading at $44.50 a barrel, down 54 per cent compared to the same period in 2008 and down 20 per cent compared to the end of last year.
A frog turns to a prince – that’s not news. A prince turns to a frog? No, that’s not news either.
But it is the plot of the latest film starring Daniel Craig. And Harrison Ford. And Robin Williams. And Prince William and Prince Harry. And Prince Charles. And the Dalai Lama.
On Energy Source Today:
Rafael Sandrea: A new look at natural gas reserves
Shell’s CEO on everything under the sun
Get to know the policies of Obama’s growing energy team: US Senate panel queries DOE, Interior nominees on nuclear, oil (Platts)
Same shoe, other foot: Russia natural gas exports halve in January-April on lower demand, high prices (Platts)
A rant about biofuels, following the DOE’s optimistic endorsement: The Biofuels Prayer (Gregor)
What the oil nerds up to: What is happening at the OTC ( Houston Chronicle)
An energy producing snake: Anaconda video (Guardian)
Nabucco – and thus European energy policy – may not be as doomed as some believe: EU pipeline gets boost amid slump (WSJ)
The company that paid its chief executive $112m last year struggles: Chesepeake posts $6bn loss (Houston Chronicle)
Natural gas is considered the queen of the fossil fuels mainly because it is the cleanest of them all and the world is in transit to a low carbon economy. This has led to an abnormally high increase in gas production as energy demand shifts towards this resource for power generation and natural gas vehicles. This is particularly true in the industrialized countries, partly because there is a perception that there are abundant supplies of natural gas. In fact, natural gas is the world’s fastest growing fossil energy source, contributing almost 50 million barrels a day of oil equivalent and acting as the principal supplier to industry, petrochemical feedstock, agriculture, and residential and commercial uses. These sectors now account for two-thirds of the natural gas consumed.
On a global scale, however, this valuable resource stands for less than one-fifth of the total oil and gas resources discovered so far, making it more compelling that we have to conserve it as much as possible.
Executive pay at Shell has become a story because of the bonuses and other incentives paid to executives including Jeroen van der Veer, the CEO. Advisers to investors have complained about the awards, and a shareholder revolt is looming.
Whether or not you think Mr van der Veer’s pay awards are justified – and Shell did pay him 58 per cent more in 2008 than in 2007 – it is hard to argue that he has done a bad job during his five years at the top of the company. Shell’s performance may not have been spectacular, but it has maintained its independence and risen to the rank of Europe’s biggest – and the West’s second-biggest – oil company by market value.
Mr van der Veer was interviewed in the FT last week, giving his thoughts on his five-year tenure at the top of Shell and the crisis in the oil industry caused by $50 crude. There is much more of that in the transcript (lightly edited) below. He expands on those issues, and talks about Shell’s plans in the Arctic and Australia, the problems of Russia’s oil industry, and the thinking behind the company’s cuts in investment in wind power.
More in the FT (video: Jeroen van der Veer of Shell on oil prices)
- Venezuela readies law to seize some oil services
Law puts state in charge of companies services (FT)
- Alstom to bid for Areva T&D
Profits up 30 per cent to $1.6bn (FT)
- Xstrata suffers protest over pay
More than a third failed to back it pay plan (FT)