for Oil Majors
Amid low prices and growing calls for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels, the global integrated oil majors find themselves at a crossroads.
Higher oil prices and surging profits in the second quarter are giving them a lot more leeway, definitively putting an end to years of austerity.
The oil industry continues to struggle despite prices rising and expectations for strong earnings reports. Energy stocks in the S&P 500 declined by 6.6 percent in the first quarter.
The current environment is ideal for the oil majors: Lower production costs, consolidation, and cautious spending allow them to post massive returns.
A series of recent deepwater discoveries has demonstrated that the offshore oil sector is beginning to rebound after years of subdued activity, despite increasing interest in onshore shale drilling.
Fourth-quarter earnings significantly missed expectations, but they do not necessarily negate the broader improving trend for the oil majors.
The oil majors are expected to post $80 billion in organic free cash flow in 2018, but spending is expected to be modest.
The oil majors are posting their best quarterly figures in years, an indication that they are adapting to the new price environment. After several years of spending cuts and rising debt, the largest integrated oil companies have turned a corner.
The glut of supply could last years, threatening to keep prices low until the 2020s, but the oil majors are playing the long game, expecting the demand for gas to grow substantially over time.
Independent producers are struggling to hit output targets at current price levels while the majors are focusing on becoming more efficient.