Breakingviews

BP is making the best of a bad situation

July 28, 2015

Underlying profit at the UK oil major fell 64 percent. The lower oil price is the main culprit. Costs and capital expenditure are coming down, and operating cashflow remains resilient. But with the oil price falling again, BP has more challenges than opportunities.

Iran nuclear deal is huge potential step forward

By Edward Hadas
July 14, 2015

The hope is that the 100-page agreement will help keep oil cheap, spur rapid growth in the Iranian economy and lead to less fighting in the Middle East. But sanctions can be revived quickly if things don’t go to plan. Mistrust remains endemic. Optimists will have to be patient.

Forget ethics, carbon divestment looks profitable

June 11, 2015

Norway’s state fund and insurer AXA are ditching carbon-rich companies. The rhetoric may be ideological, but the economic case against coal and legacy utilities is strong. They face tough challenges, even if political action against climate change remains lacklustre.

Elon Musk plugs Tesla valuation into the grid

May 1, 2015

The Silicon Valley billionaire’s new home battery system is, like his electric cars, too pricey for many. But if costs keep falling, Tesla’s Gigafactory runs smoothly and the solar market expands, shareholders may find there’s more spark in batteries than vehicles.

China SOE fusion could topple cult of competition

April 28, 2015

A mooted $569 bln merger between Sinopec and PetroChina looks a step back for reform and efficiency. But competition between state-backed firms isn’t always helpful. A more demanding shareholder, pricing power and superior regulators could be better spurs to improve performance.

China’s road to West is paved with bold intention

April 20, 2015

President Xi Jinping is expected to sign off on a $46 billion corridor between Western China and Pakistan. The transport link may end up as a security nightmare. But the lure of bringing Europe closer and countering India’s clout in South Asia makes it a tempting idea.

Royal Dutch Shell and BG open mega-deal pipeline

April 8, 2015

The $200 bln energy giant is in advanced talks to buy its $46 bln gas rival. It could be an opportunistic move for Shell, whose vulnerable target has a new CEO. There could yet be other suitors for BG. Any deal is also bound to kick off other big transactions in the sector.

Obama’s nuclear gift to Modi is shrewd investment

January 26, 2015

The U.S. president has unblocked a stalled nuclear power deal with India, allowing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to build new reactors. While that will boost orders for GE-Hitachi and Westinghouse, bigger gains to the U.S. economy will come from ending India’s energy deficit.

Petrodollar drought is new risk for markets

January 6, 2015

Low oil prices are not only a blight for energy producers. They could hurt global financial markets too. After years of surplus petro-earnings gushing into a range of assets, notably fixed income, the flows are at risk of reversing. The sharp equity market fall may be a first sign.

Crude slump will stoke European oil and gas M&A

January 2, 2015

The sharp drop in the price of Brent might make it harder to get deals done in the short term. But if the downturn persists, financial distress will put some small players in play. Larger, more defensive mergers, designed to create value by sharing costs, are also possible.