Divestitures and acquisitions were more significant in altering the “Big Oil” leadership landscape than either organic growth or the megamergers of yesteryear, according to the results of Petroleum Intelligence Weekly’s “Top 50” global oil company rankings, released today.
ConocoPhillips’ “shrink-to-grow” strategy, which had it spinning off considerable assets in 2010, resulted in the company falling out of the Top 10 for the first time in four years, with the Houston-based giant dropping to 12 from 8 a year earlier.
Conoco’s slippage in 2010 paved the way for Russian Gazprom’s first-time entry into the elite Top 10 that year, moving up to 10 from 12 a year earlier. France’s Total marked the only other shift on the leader board, moving up to 9 from 10 a year earlier [i.e., Saudi Aramco maintained its hold on the top spot, followed by the National Iranian Oil Co. at No. 2; with ExxonMobil at No. 3 and the Petroleos de Venezuela at No. 4. China National Petroleum Corp. retained its spot as the No. 5, followed by U.K.'s BP, Royal Dutch Shell of the Netherlands/UK and Chevron. Please also see the Saudi Aramco website, the HighBeam Business article and my remarks below -- D.R.].
This year’s rankings reaffirmed the continued importance of the so-called “supermajors” – ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total — which held onto their Top 10 spots. But companies in developing-countries like China were racing to catch up, moving up the ranks as they grew their operations through billions of dollars in strategic acquisitions.
The PIW Top 50 rankings compare petroleum-industry majors, independents and national oil companies based operational size, rather than market cap or other financial measures, to provide a holistic view of the industry landscape. They incorporate six unique operational criteria — oil and gas reserves, oil and gas production, product sales and refinery distillation capacity — from fiscal year 2010, the latest for which complete data were available.
For the first time the Top 50 also took a hard look at M&A, correlating companies’ movement in the rankings with the announced deal value of their mergers and acquisitions in 2009, 2010 and year-to-date 2011. The analysis reaffirms M&A’s importance to companies’ operational growth strategies, showing large net buyers — particularly in China — have generally fared better than net sellers.
“Companies are increasingly rising or falling based on their ability to look beyond the integrated model to grow their operations,” said Ian Nathan, a senior research analyst at PIW parent company Energy Intelligence Group and lead author of the Top 50. “With new reserves becoming ever scarcer, companies that come up with innovative ways to create value will reap ever bigger rewards.”
Among this year’s PIW Top 50 highlights:
- The year’s biggest gainer, Canada’s Suncor, soared 10 spots, to 39 from 49, on the strength of its Petro-Canada acquisition and impressive gains in oil and gas production and product sales.
- Colombia’s Ecopetrol returned to the list, resurfacing at 48 on significant increases in oil output and gas reserves. Meanwhile, New York-based Hess fell out off the Top 50 from 47 as its growth in oil reserves was unable to compensate for a drop in gas reserves.
- China’s Sinopec and CNOOC each gained four spots, with Sinopec jumping from 26 to 22 and CNOOC from 38 to 34 as they continued executing long-established growth strategies.
- Gazprom notwithstanding, Russian companies were a mixed bag in terms of growth. Novatek advanced to 41 from 44, but Rosneft, majority owned by the Russian government, fell to 19 from 16.
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(Please see my post "[Energy Intelligence] 'Top 100' Oil Rankings Heavy on Houston Firms," by Barrett Goldsmith, Houston Business Journal, Dec 3, 2010. 2011 marks the 23rd consecutive year that Saudi Aramco has achieved the top spot in the PIW rankings. Pemex retained its spot as the No. 11 in PIW's new Top 50 oil rankings for 2010. Also, Petrobras retained its spot as the No. 15 in PIW's new Top 50 oil rankings for 2010. Furthermore, please see Forbes ranking of oil and gas companies by oil and gas production "Mid 2012 Ranking of the World's Biggest Oil & Gas Companies," and PFC Energy ranking of the biggest publicly-traded energy companies, based mainly on capital market performance: "PFC Energy 50 Ranking of World’s Top Energy Companies." -- D.R.)