Forbes: Exxon's Declining Output A Sign Of The Times

In a sign of challenges ahead for the world’s biggest oil companies, ExxonMobil today announced a 7.5% decline in oil and gas output over the same time last year.

Though its 3.96 million barrels of net oil equivalent per day still puts it well ahead of all publicly traded oil giant except the freshly expanded Rosneft, the slip shows just how hard it is for a giant to keep replacing declining output, let alone grab some growth.

No doubt that Exxon can survive a slimming down: net income for the third quarter was $9.57 billion, or $2.09 a share, down from $2.13 a share a year ago.

But those seemingly healthy results were undergirded by strong margins in its downstream refining business. Earnings from the upstream side were down 29%.

Some of the lackluster result stems from Exxon’s $30 billion acquisition of XTO Energy in 2010. Buying the big shale explorer added heftily to reserves, but low natural gas prices mean that the fields XTO’s drillers have been tapping are not profitable, at least for now. (See: Inside the Mind of Rex Tillerson.)  MORE


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