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News ID: 96047
Publish Date : 31 October 2021 - 21:36
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HOUSTON (Bloomberg) --The world’s biggest energy companies are producing the most cash in years, but don’t expect them to spend it on bringing on fresh supplies of oil and natural gas to combat shortages in Europe and China this winter.
Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Chevron Corp. confirmed this week that, for the most part, they’ll spend their windfall profits on share buybacks and dividends. Capital expenditures will rise next year, but the increases come off 2021’s exceptionally low base and within frameworks established before the recent surge in fossil-fuel prices.
It’s a step-change from previous energy rallies, such the early 2010s when emerging U.S. shale plays and fears over fossil fuel shortages prompted a massive upswing in capital spending. That boom ended painfully for the industry, with overproduction and a lack of cost control. This time around, Big Oil appears content to take the cash and hand it over to shareholders, who are both weary of poor returns over the last decade and concerned about the companies’ significant climate risk.
Producers can satisfy both groups by simply not ramping up spending on fossil fuels. But that’s bad portent for consumers crying out for more supply. Europe and Asia are currently competing for natural gas, sending prices to record levels, while the U.S. and India have asked OPEC+ to produce more oil. China has called on state-owned companies to secure energy supplies at any cost.

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