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Marketplace

An earnings shock as Big Oil adjusts to low oil prices

Andy Uhler Oct 30, 2015
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Royal Dutch Shell posted a $6.1 billion loss this quarter. The French oil company Total said its net profit fell almost 70 percent. Petro China‘s fell 80 percent.

Big integrated oil companies aren’t making money on oil, but most have refineries. David Goldwyn, president of Goldwyn Global Strategies, said those companies will take cheap oil and make money refining it into gasoline.

“It is the nature of the integrateds to have extremely diverse portfolios exactly to hedge against these kinds of cycles,” he said.

John Hofmeister, former president of Shell, agreed the big guys will be fine, but their strategies change.“In situations like this, ” he said, “where it looks like it’s going to last longer than expected, value gets destroyed.”

That helps explain why Shell temporarily abandoned projects in Alaska and Canada it had already spent billions on. Bernard Weinstein, associate director of Southern Methodist University’s Maguire Energy Institute, said there might be a silver lining.

“I guess the good news is ,because they’re not drilling as much, that means they’re not replacing reserves,” he said.

Weinstein said most majors are suspending projects or moving to lower risk plays.

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