Breakingviews

Saudi’s three great pillars are showing cracks

May 24, 2016

Oil, Islam and the ruling family of Al Saud bind the kingdom together. But low commodity prices and disruptive economic reforms risk opening up divisions within the ruling class. That in turn could unpick the all-important 80-year pact between religious leaders and the state.

Oilmen fix smart $2.2 bln deal in Papua New Guinea

May 20, 2016

Oil Search’s offer to buy InterOil is canny and opportunistic. The buyer will only pay later for future gas discoveries. An agreement to sell a big chunk straight on to France’s Total also cuts the chance of a rival bid. It leaves InterOil investors with an unattractive choice.

Saudi reshuffle points to era of oil volatility

May 9, 2016

Ali al-Naimi, just fired as oil minister, was the architect of a bitter price war but also had successes reaching consensus with OPEC. His successor Khalid al-Falih may lack the same influence. It suggests a more centralised Saudi establishment, but more discord in oil markets.

Saudi U.S. selloff threat not to be trifled with

April 20, 2016

The kingdom has told lawmakers it would dump some $750 bln of assets should Congress pass a bill allowing 9/11 victims to sue. These funds are its last line of defense to lower oil prices. That the alternative - having assets frozen - is an even worse outcome is scarier still.

Give OPEC more power and let Iran and Saudi bicker

April 19, 2016

A bitter struggle between Riyadh and Tehran has hit the credibility of the group, after their rift stymied a freeze to oil output. The dispute implies the cartel needs reform and more power to offset the political motives of its members. The outcome: a more stable oil market.

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.

BP’s $20 mln Dudley payout looks crass but isn’t

April 14, 2016

The oil major faces an uproar over Chief Executive Bob Dudley’s bumper remuneration package despite the company slashing jobs and recording losses last year. But the criticism may be unfair. Dudley has hit key targets and drawn a line under the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

The British Museum should ask for more from BP

April 7, 2016

Climate change activists are protesting against the London institution’s sponsorship from the oil group. For the museum, the cost of accepting patronage has risen. More to the point, BP pays less of its annual pre-tax profit in charitable giving than FTSE 100 peers on average.

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.

The Exchange podcast: Lord Browne of L1 Energy

By Rob Cox
March 24, 2016

The former BP chief swings by Times Square to discuss his new book on how companies can radically engage with the wider world and become more inclusive to the benefit of owners. He also talks about the potential for M&A in the energy business, the oil market and Brexit.