Breakingviews

Refiner’s credit crunch augurs wider pains

January 3, 2012

Petroplus, Europe’s biggest independent oil refiner, may have to close plant if it can’t refinance a $1 bln credit line. Rivals may benefit if a poor result for the Swiss firm speeds reduction in refining capacity. But weak profit margins are likely to remain a widespread problem.

U.S. energy boom spurs economic vs political clash

By Christopher Swann
October 18, 2012

Meaningful exports of oil are banned. But with output surging and crude fetching a 20 pct discount at home, producers want to ship it overseas - a red flag in Washington. There are similar reasons to export gas, but big practical hurdles. Unblocking trade could benefit everyone.

Activist exposes Hess as latest governance villain

By Christopher Swann
January 29, 2013

Hedge fund Elliott reckons the U.S. oil company could be worth more than double its current $20 bln-plus value. But as at other energy groups, like Chesapeake and SandRidge, a too-cozy board has brought waste and strategic blunders. New broom directors would help change that.

Lifting of refining curse allows Big Oil to shine

By Christopher Swann
April 29, 2010

The doubling of crude prices since last year isn't the only thing giving a healthy glow to Big Oil's earnings. The refining sector, which splattered the accounts of ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips in red ink last year, is finally looking less bloody. Exploration and production profits are finally able to take center stage.