Big Oil wasn’t supposed to be Big Oil by now. The world’s largest stock market-listed oil companies were supposed to be different beasts at this point, in recognition that climate change was a clear and present danger, that crazy-expensive development costs were killing them and that they ultimately could not compete with the state-owned production machines in the desert, such as Saudi Aramco, with ultracheap pumping costs.
Yet today, nothing much has changed. They are still Big Oil – just with a smattering of clean-energy businesses on the side, as if for climate change PR purposes.
Propelled by the recent price surge – oil is up by more than half in 12 months – they are market darlings once again. Today, Shell is the top name on the FTSE 100, having overtaken vaccine powerhouse AstraZeneca.
In one month, ExxonMobil has gone from US$60 a share to more than US$70, giving it a market value of US$300-billion. Canada’s Suncor energy is up almost 50 per cent since this time last year.