№11 November 2009
№ 10 (October 2009)
The past two years have been some of the most momentous in the history of the oil markets. A frantic commodities bubble redefined record oil prices and sent crude oil soaring to over $147 per barrel (/b) in July 2008. Oil products skyrocketed as well, boosted by unprecedented demand from China in the run-up to the Olympics.
The oil price spikes were followed by freefall, caused by the global recession and a demand vacuum. Crude oil futures dipped below $40/b in December 2008 before rebounding from mid-February back up to over $70/b later in the year, despite continuing recession in the OECD countries.
The boom and bust in prices threw the industry under an unfamiliar media spotlight as the hue and cry from wary consumers grew. While the structure of the energy industry has not undergone an overnight sea change, there has been a shift in tone. From integrated oil & gas companies (IOGs) to electric utilities (EUs), there is a deepening commitment to finding and using clean and sustainable alternative sources of energy.
This has impacted many things from intensifying the search for cleaner sources of energy, such as natural gas, to the way in which crude oil is refined. IOGs are increasingly focused on finding natural gas; technology for extracting gas from shale and methane beds has advanced substantially, which is changing the global balance of energy. This is leading to an increased desire to produce LNG to enable its storage and transportation.
Refining and marketing firms, as well as IOGs, are increasing their production of clean diesel. The pressure to utilize clean alternative sources of energy in electricity generation, particularly in Europe, is impacting the physical infrastructure of electricity grids, which were not designed to deal with intermittent and distributed energy sources.
But despite all this and the roller coaster ride that oil prices have taken, IOGs have retained their global dominance. Thanks in part to last year’s $100 plus crude oil, IOGs carved out the top 13 spots in the 2009 Platts Top 250 Energy Company Rankings™, and took 30 of the top 50 places. Platts rankings are based on a combination of assets, revenues, profits and return on capital invested for listed companies with over $2 billion in assets.
Exxon Mobil Corp retained the number one spot for the fifth year running. US, UK, EMEA and Russian IOGs took two each of the ten top spots with China and Brazil sharing the limelight with one each. Latin America is making a better showing in the top 50 this year; the newly-listed Ecopetrol of Colombia, which wasn’t ranked last year, popped in at 30th on 2009’s list.
Colombia’s mostly state-owned oil company listed about 10% interest in its company on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in September 2008, and is planning to use the money raised on doubling its crude oil production. Brazil’s Petrobras made a leap to 6th place (from 12th in 2008), owing to additions to its reserves resulting from its giant pre-salt layer oil finds.
Asian oil and gas companies took eight of the top 50 places, with PetroChina topping the Asian chart and reaching number nine in the overall top 250. CNOOC grabbed the number two spot in Asia, jumping up five places. Otherwise, the top 50 rankings for all energy companies were dominated by firms from Europe and the Middle East, with 25 places overall. The Americas were second with 17, eight of which were from the United States.
Exploration and production (E&P) companies also benefited from outright oil price spikes and good demand earlier in 2008. Canada’s Encana climbed 19 places to number 16 in the top 250 list. China’s CNOOC leapt 13 places to 21st in the overall table. E&P companies were prominent in the top 50 fastest growing list and made up 30% of the fastest growing companies from the Americas, led by Addax Petroleum, which has recently been taken over by China’s Sinopec, and Southwestern Energy.
Oil price moves also meant that 16 oil storage and transportation companies made the top 250 in 2009 vs 13 in 2008, having reaped the benefits of a contango market which lasted a good part of 2008. Owners of oil storage and natural gas pipelines were the main beneficiaries. Waterborne oil shipping sank along with demand in 2008, but perked up again in 2009 as contango led oil companies to utilize floating storage.
Refining takes it on the chin
The picture for the oil & gas industry was not all rosy, however. Refining and marketing firms, having started 2008 with good demand and healthy margins, suffered greatly from the economic downturn as demand dropped and margins shrank. The worldwide recession heralded a compression in refining margins with people driving less and upgrading to more fuel-efficient cars.
Crude oil prices remained relatively high as the appetite for commodities exposure continued, while products including gasoline and heating oil fell.
ConocoPhillips, which is heavily dependent upon refining, saw its revenues fall by 27% for the financial year 2008. ConocoPhillips fell from number 16 in 2008 to 117th in Platts 2009 rankings. Valero suffered a similar fate, falling from 14th to 138th and is closing down refineries in 2009. Sunoco appeared to have a delayed reaction, largely thanks to diesel demand from Asia, coming in at fourth place in the R&M table and 59th overall.
This year, however, Sunoco is also in the process of shutting down refining capacity. Two Indian R&Ms led the table with Reliance Industries in first place (25th overall). Reliance bested its rivals in Asia, owing to its sophisticated refinery system, which optimizes cheaper heavy crude oil. Indian Oil Corp was second (33rd overall) and Japan was third with TonenGeneral Sekiyu (56th overall).
The major integrated oil and gas companies did not have a smooth ride on their way to dominating the top 10. All were hit by falling oil prices in last-quarter 2008 and sinking demand throughout first-half 2009. And, in the US, they narrowly averted a massive strike of United Steelworkers early in 2009, who were negotiating a new contract with Royal Dutch Shell.
The strike could have paralyzed over 50% of the US’s refinery capacity. The US grabbed two spots in the top 10, with ExxonMobil in the number one position and Chevron in second place. ExxonMobil made the top of the list for the fifth year in a row, with revenues of $425 billion. The Western major’s 2008 fourth-quarter net income took a 33% blow, owing to the plunge in oil prices, but then still finished the year with record profits.
In 2009, market conditions have remained challenging, causing ExxonMobil’s net income to drop 66% in the second quarter. The firm faced criticism after output fell in 2008 to its lowest level since Mobil was acquired in 1999. The company is now spending billions to find new reserves. ExxonMobil will also spend over $1 billion at two US refineries, as well as one in Belgium to improve its output of clean diesel by 10%. It also saw start-up this year of production from its new giant LNG trains in Qatar.
Сhevron moved into second place in 2009 from fourth place in 2008, having brought on-stream some significant new fields and improved its upstream revenues by about 50%. Chevron started up new projects in the US Gulf of Mexico and Indonesia in 2008, while it nearly doubled production capacity from the giant Tengiz field in Kazakhstan. Third place Royal Dutch Shell’s $458 billion revenues dwarfed even ExxonMobil’s. Voted “Energy Company of the Year” at the 10th annual Platts Global Energy Awards last year, Shell is investing heavily in LNG production as well as carbon capture and storage.
It has also, in 2009, made a major commitment towards Floating LNG, while work progresses in Qatar on what will be the world’s largest Gas-to-Liquids plant. BP moved up one place to fourth position, having finally resolved the battle for control over TNK-BP with partners Alfa-Access-Renova in September 2008. BP has also been sorting out several problems with its US refineries, including Texas City, which suffered a fatal explosion in 2005. BP’s fortunes may, however, be turning after it made a giant oil find in the Gulf of Mexico in September 2009.
PetroChina was the only Asian IOG representative in the top ten. Russians Rosneft and Gazprom came in eighth and ninth, while Italy’s ENI was number ten. Gazprom ranked number two in terms of profitability, second only to ExxonMobil.
The tiger continues to roar
China, Hong Kong and India ruled Asia and the Pacific Rim tables as oil and coal demand continued to grow across the region. The recession dented demand there as well as elsewhere, but China’s seemingly endless thirst returned in the second half of 2009. PetroChina briefly became the world’s largest firm in May 2009 before ExxonMobil edged it out again in October. The firm led the Asian table as refining margins improved; the Chinese government has embarked on a plan to slowly reduce subsidies on oil products, making them more profitable for oil refiners.
PetroChina was followed by E&P giant CNOOC in second place and Indian R&M Reliance industries in third. New to the ranks of the Asian top energy companies by industry catagory were NTPC, India’s largest power company, Tokyo Gas Co., and AGL Energy, an Australian distributed utility. Asia dominated the coal and consumable fuels (C&CF) market with three of the top eight firms coming from China, and one from Indonesia. China Shenhua Energy came in at number one in the industry, with China Coal Energy third and Yanzhou Coal Mining fourth.
Newcomer to the list PT Bumi Resources in Indonesia took sixth place. India is actively trading coal and buying coal mines overseas, but no Indian company has yet made the top ten in the C&CF category. Chinese and Indian demand for coal pushed prices to new heights in 2008, prompting further concern over the countries’ greenhouse gas emissions. In 2009, China and India pledged to substantially reduce emissions, and Shenhua signed an agreement in October to work with Shell to develop clean coal technology.
Asian companies made up more than 20% of the 50 fastest growing companies list, and also took 30% of the top 10 places in the R&M category. Reliance Industries and Indian Oil Corporation were first and second, with TonenGeneral Sekiyu of Japan third.
European utilities bloom
Eight of the top ten electric utilities in Platts 2009 rankings were from Europe. Boosted by the European Commission’s 20-20-20 targets, which mandates that 20% of energy generation comes from renewable sources by 2020, Europe is leading the world in solar, wind and hydro power expansion. Spain, France and Germany are leading the rush to smart grid technology development in EMEA. France’s EDF Energy ranked first in the European leading companies table.
Also ranked number one in terms of assets, EDF has been on a buying spree; it took over UK nuclear provider British Energy in 2008 and Belgian electricity supplier SPE this year. Not to be outdone, Italy’s largest utility, the number two ranked Enel, bought a 25% share in Spain’s Endesa (ranked number 5) earlier this year. Only two US electric utilities made the top ten ranks of the Top 250; Exelon of Illinois, a nuclear and fossil fuel utility, and FPL of Florida, which is investing in large-scale solar plants. In the top 20 for all energy companies, there were only three utilities -- RWE (a multi-utility) and electric utilities EDF and ENEL.
The Europeans were well represented in the top 50, while for the US, only Virginia’s Dominion Resources was ranked, at 50th down 3 places from 2008. Gas utilities climbed the ladder, owing in part to high natural gas prices in first-half 2008. Gas Natural of Spain came in 16 places higher than in 2008 at number 54, with Belgium’s Distrigas a distant 112th (up from 149th in 2008). Consumer complaints have been rife and gas prices have since toppled, which may damage their returns this year even if winter arrives hard and early.
Independent Power Producer AES of Virginia won the top spot among IPPs, coming in at number 72 in the overall rankings, with India’s NTPC second at number 73. A contraction in power demand this year is expected to damage revenues. Among multi-utilities, Germany’s RWE ranked first (Platts rank number 14). France’s GDF Suez, a newcomer to the list after the merger of GDF and Suez in 2008, came in second, and at number 27 in the overall rankings.
2009 newcomers to Platts Top 250 were heavily weighted toward utilities, which comprised 14 of the more than 30 newly-ranked companies. Of the 14, seven were electric utilities and the rest scattered between gas, multi and independent utilities. The industry continues to attract new investment, despite the challenges it faces with “greening up” its generation and carbon cap and trade policies.
Other newcomers fell primarily in the E&P space, with high prices attracting new investment there and in storage & transportation.
1. ExxonMobil Corp
2. Chevron Corp
3. Royal Dutch Shell
5. Total SA
6. Petrobras Brasileiro
7. Rosneft Oil
8. Gazprom Oao
9. Petrochina Co
10. ENI SpA
14. RWE AG
15. Occidental Petroleum
16. EnCana Corp
17. BG Group plc
18. Electricite de France
19. Enel SpA
20. Marathon Oil
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