Breakingviews

How Hinkley delivers a bad deal for everyone

September 15, 2016

The approval of Britain’s new nuclear power plant puts politics ahead of sense. Consumers could end up paying 15 bln pounds in today’s money. New ownership tests erode the country’s reputation for openness. Brexit has undermined Britain’s bargaining power.

BHP Billiton reaches earnings nadir

August 16, 2016

A ray of light is appearing for the mining giant. Weak global demand and a Brazilian dam disaster were partly to blame for a record $6.4 bln full-year net loss but the worst has passed. As long as prices stabilise, cost-cutting will allow BHP to return more cash to shareholders.

UK fracking revolution calls for national thinking

August 12, 2016

Handouts to disgruntled communities and tax breaks are unlikely to make shale gas extraction more appealing for investors, given the shaky outlook for prices. A better strategy could be to create a national drilling titan in the mould of Norway's Statoil to get Britain fracking.

Theresa May may have saved EDF from itself

July 29, 2016

The state-owned French utility’s 12 bln pound investment in nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point could unravel after the UK’s new prime minister initiated a surprise review of the high-risk, high-cost project. Pulling the plug would do UK taxpayers and EDF shareholders a big favour.

Indian tycoon’s sweetened Cairn bid is still sour

July 25, 2016

Anil Agarwal's mining group Vedanta has upped its offer to buy out the minorities of its cash-rich Indian subsidiary. The 9 percent premium looks far from compelling. The fate of the $2.4 bln bid rests with Cairn India's two largest outside investors.

It’s not how much oil, but how much influence

July 5, 2016

The U.S. has more oil than Saudi Arabia, according to Rystad Energy. But oil reserves are only worth counting if there’s a chance they can be produced economically over time. Size is much less important than an ability to guide the price - and there, Saudi still rules.

“Frack Master” suit is a sign of bezzle shrinkage

June 27, 2016

The U.S. SEC says Chris Faulkner inflated his shale-oil company’s prospects, then blew $80 mln of investors’ money on dodgy expenses. Hard times tend to reveal bad boom-era behavior. The oil patch’s lax governance makes it an obvious place for regulators to hunt for culprits.

Farcical oil deal prompts George Costanza defense

May 6, 2016

Like the character in sitcom “Seinfeld,” Energy Transfer hopes to shake up a sour relationship: the $21 bln takeover of pipeline rival Williams. ETE aims to pay less cash, seeming to force the issue by making itself as unattractive as possible. The stakes are no laughing matter.

OPEC freeze failure could hasten oil’s recovery

April 18, 2016

Producers failed to agree a deal to freeze supply at a meeting in Doha. The failure was largely due to Saudi Arabia’s refusal to allow Iran to be exempted from an agreement. Prices will drop initially, but if OPEC disintegrates the stalemate could hasten crude’s recovery.

Iran more red herring than black swan for oil

March 29, 2016

Despite lifted sanctions and a more moderate government, Tehran lacks the investment to deliver a boost to supply. Next month’s unofficial OPEC meeting may produce an output freeze. With Russia also less liable to increase its flows, pressure on prices looks more up than down.