Gazprom steals spotlight from Exxon Mobil

Only two companies from the United States made the Top 10 list for financial performers, according to S&P Global Platts.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Sept. 25, 2017 at 5:53 AM
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Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Russian energy company Gazprom was ranked by S&P Global Platts as the top financial performer of the year, ending the reign for Exxon Mobil.

Only two U.S. companies were in the Top 10 list of the biggest financial performers, and Exxon's move from No. 1 to No. 9 was the first time in 12 years it wasn't ranked at the top. U.S. refiner Valero Energy Corp. was ranked No. 8, down from the No. 3 spot last year.

Ed Hirs, an energy economist at the University of Houston, told Platts that government support may explain the change in rankings.

"In an environment like we have had this past year, those companies such as ExxonMobil and Chevron who are exposed to the commodity price environment, you would expect them to fall behind versus those companies that have a government license to make a profit," he said.

Gazprom is majority owned by the Russian government. Chevron was ranked 121 in the Platts ranking, down 104 spots from last year.

Last week, Gazprom Neft, the oil division of Gazprom and operator of the Badra field in southern Iraq, said the 1.78 million barrels dispatched to the United States on the New Solution tanker represented the largest maritime shipment that it ever sent to a foreign country. Chevron, meanwhile, made a deal last week to farm out stakes to French company Total, ranked No. 10 by Platts, for operations in the Gulf of Mexico and cancelled a rig contract for the region about a year early.

Platts added that Gazprom's role in the European natural gas market helped it climb two spots from last year to take No. 1. Gazprom supplies about 20 percent of European natural gas needs and some European companies have invested in its planned expansion of the Nord Stream pipeline through the Baltic Sea, even though some European governments oppose it because of anti-trust concerns.

For the United States, analysts with Platts said the change in the ranking atmosphere may be temporary. A decision last year to end a 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports means that, according to Platts, the United States will by 2020 rival some members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as an exporter.

"Exports in the first half of 2017 are already averaging more than 80 percent higher, at nearly 950,000 barrels per day, with 700,000 bpd of that being exported from the Gulf Coast," wrote oil analyst Jenna Delaney.

Exports from the United States have become more attractive in recent months as the spread, or difference, between West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of oil, grows over rival grades. In early Monday trading, Dubai, the Persian Gulf benchmark, held a $4.91 per barrel premium over WTI.

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