Quarterly results for Big Oil are rolling in, and it’s a similar picture across the board. Most are slightly down due to marginally lower oil prices; gas is burning a hole in their budgets, still falling well below full cycle economics in America.
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Royal Dutch Shell is a pretty good example. Profits fell by 6% in the third quarter to $6.6bn. Exposure to cheap U.S. gas was part of the problem, plunging 38% compared to a year ago on Shell’s books; dirty Canadian oil also took a hit, falling 8%. In fact, oil and gas production fell to 2.9boed compared to 3.012mboed last year. None of that’s overly concerning for Shell, but what it does next, is. It remains notable by its absence in upstream Russian plays, and hasn’t come to terms with the fact that it’s going to be close to impossible for them to plough ahead with U.S. concessions in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea. It’s spent $5bn so far, all without scratching the surface, despite holding the concessions since 2008.