Monday, August 08, 2005

Mixed Messages From The Oil Majors

At Energy Bulletin, an archived Financial Times article noting the recent change in tone in advertising from two of the largest majors, Chevron and ExxonMobil, questioning whether the world has enough oil for everyone who wants it. (The change in Chevron's website I noted previously.) The money quote here:
One senior executive at an oil company not involved in the advertising campaigns speculated that his counterparts were attempting to buy themselves some slack to go after the messier, more expensive, dirty oil. Another executive said it may buy some sympathy for the difficulty many companies are having in growing developing their production and reserves.


In its advertisements BP touts new energy alternatives, while ExxonMobil, which has unapologetically abandoned alternatives that have not been profitable, says in one advertisement: “Wishful thinking must not cloud real thinking.”

But answering the concerns of the consumer, even about the possible shortage of oil, is not the primary job of an oil company. Its most important stakeholders are its stock shareholders, some of whom have been left perplexed by the advertisements after hearing [an] altogether different message at last week's earnings conferences.

Neil McMahon, analyst at Sanford Bernstein, said: “We think these messages are at odds with the comments normally made to investors regarding future oil prices and the ability of producers to meet demand, and we wonder if perhaps those messages are actually a better indicator of the companies' thinking.