Fill’er up at Sinopec and Gazprom

Let’s see. What does Exxon do with it’s obscene profits? Buy Matisses for corporate headquarters? Buy a bigger yacht to entertain government poobahs? Donate to Obama'’s campaign? All three? Could be. But is that the point?

If two companies compete in the same market, the company that does a better job at increasing it’s top and bottom line will grow (top) and prosper (bottom) faster than it’s competition. Eventually the second company will become a non-factor in the market. Exxon competes in a very competitive market and has to make profits to grow and prosper. Exxon needs a hoard of cash and top credit ratings to come up with the vast sums it expends for exploration, production and acquisition.

According to a private report by Morningstar analyst Alan Good, Exxon is one of the few remaining major integrated oil firms with an AAA credit rating, That together with its cash flow from operations enables the company to maintain its large cash position allowing it to access to cheap debt and “ give the company resources to make opportune acquisitions.” And, indeed, Exxon forked over 36 billion to buy XTO Energy last year.

Here is just a partial sample of what Exxon is planning to do with its ill-gotten gains

Boost its capital spending budget this year by more than 6% to $34 billion to invest in unconventional projects and to lift production between 3% and 4%. "The step up in capital spending to $34 billion this year is almost entirely due to the levels of spending we put in place for unconventionals," Tillerson (CEO) said.

Drill an exploratory well in the Black Sea, with its partner Brazilian state-run Petrobras, and another exploratory well also in the Black Sea with Turkish Petroleum Corp.

Increase production in unconventional shale areas such as the Haynesville formation in northwest Louisiana and East Texas and in the Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas. Also develop its interest in the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and expand exploration in unconventional areas outside the U.S., including Colombia, Argentina, Germany, Romania, Poland, China and Indonesia.

Drive its growth with large projects already operational in Canada and Russia.

The point being that Exxon has to compete with other oil companies both here and abroad. It has to spend billions on exploration, billions more on development, and further billions on refining and transportation. It has got to outmaneuver, out-spend, out-produce and out-profit all the other super majors raking in money. In fact Gazprom in 2010 raked in more profits than Chevron or Exxon.

Windfall profit tax? That doesn’'t mean more money in your pocket it means more money in Obama’s pocket and less in Exxon’s. That hampers Exxon’s ability to compete and if you really want to find out what gas prices outside the US are all about, you will when you pull up to your friendly Sinopec and put a dragon in your tank or pull up to a Gazprom pump and put a bear in your tank.


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