Christopher's Feed
Jul 29, 2011
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Exxon’s Unusual Suspects

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The pressure is mounting for Exxon Mobil boss Rex Tillerson. Disappointing second-quarter results on Thursday represented a rare miss of Wall Street expectations for the oil titan. The primary culprit was refining, where earnings can be capricious. But at a time when Exxon is still struggling to win over investors on its beefy bet on natural gas, Mr. Tillerson can ill afford such slips.

Jul 27, 2011

Regulation alone doesn’t explain Soros exit

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

By Christopher Swann

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – Hedge fund legend George Soros has suggested regulatory red tape is leading him to bow out of investing other people’s money. He’s not alone. Stanley Druckenmiller and Carl Icahn made similar noises when handing back investors’ money. But with only trivial sums of outside cash, none of these billionaires needed much encouragement to do so. Rules are a handy scapegoat, but on their own they’re not chasing away industry lions.

Jul 25, 2011
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Lagging Petrobras won’t win back investors easily

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

For all its promise, Brazil’s oil bounty has so far disappointed investors. State-controlled giant Petrobras has massively trailed rivals since the Brazilian government forced it to pay up for offshore oil reserves nearly a year ago. Now the group is trying to make amends – trimming unpopular refining spending and lifting output goals. But the company’s pledges deserve skepticism.

Jul 21, 2011
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Will the real price of oil please stand up?

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Oil is a quintessential global commodity. But the price of the black stuff has got harder to grasp thanks to the gap between the two main benchmarks — Brent and WTI. Contrary to market expectations, this gap could widen over the coming year as ever more U.S. crude is stranded at home. This will delight U.S refiners. Questioning about the true price of oil, however, could get louder.

Jul 19, 2011
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Chavez’s new oil reserves likely to stay buried

By Christopher Swann and Martin Hutchinson
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

NEW YORK — Leapfrogging Saudi’s oil reserves to become the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ largest repository of crude gives Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez fresh bragging rights. But with output down 25 percent since 2000, citizens and oil users should hold their applause. Only with better Brazil-style relations with foreign firms and a revamped national oil company, PDVSA, will production ramp up.

Jul 15, 2011
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Central bankers too set on 2 pct inflation target

By Christopher Swann and Agnes T. Crane
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

NEW YORK — Monetary policymakers in big, developed economies have experimented wildly with real money trying to stave off crisis. Yet with inflation returning in places as recovery takes hold, they share a blinkered faith in a theoretical 2 percent annual inflation goal — despite scant evidence that even far higher rates harm growth. As rich nations struggle with debt, the credo merits an open-minded rethink.

Jul 14, 2011
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Conoco gives Big Oil a “come to Jesus” moment

By Christopher Swann and Lisa Lee
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

ConocoPhillips has broken the mold. America’s third-largest energy group is splitting exploration from production and downstream operations. With investors quickly adding as much as $5 billion to Conoco’s value, the message to other integrated companies like Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell is getting louder.

Jul 6, 2011
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Pipeline prey may now be too pricey for Williams

By Christopher Swann and Lisa Lee
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Investors don’t expect American energy group Williams Companies to give up the chase for rival Southern Union. But trumping the latest $5 billion offer by Energy Transfer Equity will destroy value for its own shareholders. With Southern Union starting to look an expensive catch, Williams may be better off leaving the overpaying to its rival.

Jun 24, 2011
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Energy mergers frenzy takes a pause — temporarily

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Bankers in the oil patch who got a glimpse of their families of late shouldn’t get used to it. The frenetic pace of M&A in the energy sector, excluding utilities, slowed this year. As unraveling deals like Encana’s C$5.4 billion tie-up with PetroChina suggest, uncertainty over commodity prices is the main culprit. But the global hunger for hydrocarbons means energy bankers won’t be idle for long.

Jun 9, 2011
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Once pricey U.S. gasland now looks like a bargain

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The gas-rich land of the Marcellus shale has been some of America’s hottest wildcat real estate in recent years. But if Exxon Mobil’s $1.7 billion purchase is any indication, the days of eye-watering prices are over. The oil titan is paying barely half the price such acres were fetching last year, as the frenzy has shifted to oilier Texas. Cheaper real estate may even make gas assets look appealing again.

    • About Christopher

      "I am a columnist at Thomson Reuters focusing on the energy industry and hedge funds. Prior to this I worked at Bloomberg and the Financial Times."
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