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Is There a Future for California's Oil Industry?

1. Exxon Retains Its Pole Position as Most Profitable Exchange-Traded Major

- US major ExxonMobil remains the most profitable exchange-traded oil company in the world after a better-than-expected Q4 net income of $7.63 billion, bringing its full-year results to $36 billion.

- Saudi Aramco’s quarterly profits are still comparable to Exxon’s full-year ones, raking in $94.5 billion in January-September, but Aramco is only traded at Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul exchange.

- Amidst lower flat prices and refinery margins, share buybacks have been the key tenet of oil majors’ Q1 2024 pledges – BP and Shell vowed to buy back $3.5 billion in Q1 and TotalEnergies promised $2 billion.

- Whilst ExxonMobil’s buyback pledges will be ramped up should the Pioneer acquisition be closed on time in Q2, leaving Norway’s Equinor as the only oil major to cut its payouts from $17 billion in 2023 to $14 billion this year due to its natural gas bias.

2. The Middle East Inaugurates Another Greenfield Refinery

- For most of 2023, industry watchers have been focused on the commissioning of Kuwait’s 615,000 b/d Al Zour mega refinery, however, this year will see another new downstream addition in the Middle East, Oman’s Duqm refinery.

- Boasting a capacity of 230,000 b/d, Duqm was officially launched this week following several months of trial runs, marking the wave of Middle Eastern refinery expansion.


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