To admit any near-term limitation would have meant that the company’s business model wasn’t just flawed, but about to be revealed as a sinkhole for long-term investors as its main business winds down. That would have led to an immediate downward valuation in the stock price and a considerable hit to the wealth of the company’s managers due to the effect on their stock options and holdings.
Once again, I say, “Of course, they’re telling everyone they’re optimistic about oil supplies.” And yet, a look at the company’s actual situation ought to lead to a much different conclusion.
BP’s oil and natural gas production combined has declined about 15 percent since 2009. (The linked article is in French, but Google Translate does a pretty good job of rendering it intelligible for those who can’t read the language.) And, it’s not just the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill that’s been plaguing the company. The oil giant’s production is declining in the North Sea, in the United States and in Africa. Even in Central Asia where BP has dominated production in Azerbaijan, it is losing production volume.
Lest you think BP is alone, read to the entire article. ExxonMobil’s conventional crude production is down 27.5 percent since 2007. French oil giant Total’s oil production (reported as crude and natural gas liquids production) declined by 18.8 percent between 2007 and 2011. Among the top four oil companies in the world only Shell seems to have sidestepped the decline for the present.