The oil price crash that destroyed a lot of smaller oil producers has not spared the finances of even the oldest and largest oil companies. Trying to keep the precious dividends intact and growing, Big Oil is focusing on cost control and cash preservation, and has effectively deferred investments in new ultra-expensive drilling ventures.
One of the biggest companies, U.S. Chevron, is now planning to capitalize on its vast acreage holdings in the Permian. Investments in new mega projects, at least over the next few years, are not currently on the table, chief executive John Watson told Reutersin an interview published this week.
Chevron is now betting big on the Permian; the star shale play straddling West Texas and New Mexico that has seen most of the resurgence since oil prices started steadily recovering in the fourth quarter last year.
Unlike some other (and smaller) producers who have just recently rushed to secure holdings in the shale play, Chevron is not a newcomer to the Permian – the group and its legacy companies have held acreage in the area since the early 1920s.
Now the new oil order is causing the company to shift strategies away from mega drilling projects to secure steady returns in more conservative projects in order to protect dividends and keep them growing.
Chevron reported earnings of $0.22 per share for the fourth quarter of 2016, compared with a loss of $0.31 per share for the fourth quarter of 2015, in line with analyst expectations that it would return to profit, but still missing the EPS estimates by a wide margin. Full-year 2016 results showed a loss of $497 million compared with earnings of $4.6 billion in 2015, which was the first annual loss Chevron has booked since 1980.
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