Jim Mulva, chief executive of ConocoPhillips, has been in a hurry to establish his legacy. In the beginning, it was going to be as the head of one of the world’s biggest international oil and gas companies. And he got there, boosting Conoco into 5th place, in terms of production. But then the economic downturn hit, and the weaknesses in his grow-through-acquisition strategy were exposed. Conoco was forced to slash capital spending, lay off staff and sell billions of dollars in assets.
The technological advances in the oil and gas patch just keep coming. While everyone has been scrambling to catch up with the shale gas revolution, the industry has been working on another potentially massive breakthrough in gas. This one is in producing gas that has long been stranded offshore in areas too far or too small to warrant a pipeline to shore.
The big question for months has been what would happen if there was a significant spill in the deepwaters outside of the Gulf of Mexico. Following BP’s Macondo disaster, the industry worked together to build two spill response systems for this area. But nobody said what would happen if a deepwater disaster unfolded in the waters offshore Ghana or Brazil.
There is no doubt it is hard to feel sorry for Big Oil. It pulls in billions of dollars in profits whenever oil prices go up, and yet higher oil prices result in higher petrol prices for the public. So whenever these companies are doing well, the public is doing worse. And that, inevitably, leads to talk about punitive taxes (or at least a loss of tax breaks) for the oil industry.
President Barack Obama is calling on oil companies to increase production in the US, accusing them of sitting on tens of millions of unused and unexplored acres of leases on public land waiting to be tapped. But this must be put in context. Read more
The oil and gas industry has been afraid there might be repercussions from the recent investigation that found Macondo’s blowout preventer failed to close because a section of drill pipe had buckled during the accident and blocked efforts to seal it off. Read more
George Osborne, the UK chancellor, has just announced his tax measures for the next year, and the biggest surprise came with a cut to fuel duty, to be funded by extra charges on oil and gas companies if the oil price remains over a certain price somewhere around $75 a barrel. The supplementary charge for such companies will now go from 20 per cent to 32 per cent. Read more
Shell said last week that this year was the “year of delivery” in tis three year plan to boost profits and growth.
It took a big step towards that on Wednesday when it announced that gas was now flowing into the Pearl gas-to-liquid plant in Qatar. Read more
Ken Salazar, the US interior secretary, and Michael Bromwich, director of the US oceans regulator, held a press conference amid great fanfare on Monday to unveil that they had approved a plan by Shell for deepwater oil and gas exploration. Read more
Shell has begun to ship liquid natural gas cargoes into Tokyo to help meet their energy demands in the aftermath of the earthquake and subsequent nuclear crisis. The first batch into the Tokyo Bay area was agreed on Monday night, and significantly for global LNG prices, it had originally been intended for elsewhere. Read more