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Several years ago, analysts covering the oil industry were raising alarm bells about how the major oil groups would be making money in the decades to come. With conventional oilfields maturing and no sign of the shale gas revolution at that point, there was pressure from shareholders for them to get into renewables. The majors responded by delving into projects to extract biofuels from chicken fat and soybeans. But that phase is over.
The major oil groups found salvation in unconventional oil and gas production. By unconventional, I mean new ways of getting to oil and gas. In conventional production, drilling a hole into the ground is enough to get oil and gas to flow to the surface. And over the years, as that flow slowed, the industry turned to technology to help the fuel along, for example, by pumping in water and carbon dioxide. But it did not seem that alone was going to produce enough to sustain the majors decades down the road.