Christopher's Feed
Apr 12, 2011
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Gas can’t afford to lose green trump card

The attack on gas is growing. A new report alleges the fuel source is worse for global warming than coal. It’s the latest strike against its green credentials. But unlike coal, gas producers have the technology to capture the emissions. The industry should strike back by embracing tougher standards if it wants to win the fight for market share.

The notion that gas is the cleanest fossil fuel has been losing steam. A series of recent studies suggest the industry may be spoiling ground water and dredging up radioactive materials. But its proudest claim — of emitting about half as much greenhouse gas as coal — has held firm. Now even this boast has been called into question by Cornell academics.

Apr 6, 2011
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Transocean bonus mess makes Goldman look sensitive

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

Wall Street banks have recently been in a league of their own when it comes to rewarding executives for lousy performance. But by granting safety bonuses, Transocean, the deep sea driller that owned and operated the rig involved in the Macondo disaster, has set a new standard for chutzpah. Hastily donating to a victims’ fund won’t undo the damage. Energy bigwigs on the board have justified public cynicism about the entitlement culture of Big Oil.

Mar 25, 2011
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Chemicals give Exxon half a reason for integration

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

Giant energy firms tend to treat their chemicals units as poor relations. The big exception is Exxon Mobil, whose chemicals business is now benefiting from speedy Asian growth. That gives the biggest oil major an argument for vertical integration that rivals don’t have — but it’s only partially convincing.

Mar 18, 2011
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Crude markets are being bullied by black swans

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

Heads are spinning on oil trading desks. Markets are now weighing two competing tail risks — sliding demand from an injured Japan versus no-fly zones in Libya and Saudi troops in Bahrain. But in the absence of black swans, the relatively abundant flows of oil should eventually drive Brent below $100.

Feb 17, 2011
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Big Oil gets another lesson from split at Williams

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

Maybe now Big Oil will take notice. Williams has followed mid-size peer Marathon Oil with a carve-up plan. The decision to separate the pipeline and exploration businesses immediately boosted Williams’ market value by about $1.5 billion. It’s becoming more apparent that yoking such different operations together obscures value.

Feb 14, 2011

Coal could shine brighter than gold for investors

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

By Christopher Swann

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – Coal will never displace gold as jewelry. But it has started to outshine as an investment. While gold’s steep rally is threatened by a return to normal monetary policy, surging demand from Asia is pushing coal prices skyward. For those fearing higher inflation coal may be golden.

Feb 8, 2011
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Egypt a reminder for U.S. to hang onto its gas

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

With foreign prices twice their level in the United States, gas producers are raring to export a good chunk of America’s natural gas bounty. But it’s a risky bet for builders of pricey shipping terminals. And unrest in the Middle East should ram home to policymakers the wisdom of using natural resources at home to reduce foreign energy dependence.

Jan 31, 2011
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Big Oil’s big spending shouldn’t freak investors

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

Big Oil firms have become big spenders. Together, the top three U.S. giants say they plan capital spending of about $60 billion — well above the year of peak crude prices in 2008 — despite showing only tepid cash flow growth. At first blush, this looks like desperation, as Western oil groups increasingly struggle to replace crude reserves. But patient investors will find higher returns are on the way.

Jan 26, 2011
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U.S. oil independence no longer a joke

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

America imports some 10 million barrels of crude oil daily. Presidents have paid lip service to reducing this dependence since the 1970s. But as drivers shun gas guzzlers and U.S. production rises, imports could be cut in half this decade. Oil self-sufficiency could even be within reach.

Jan 24, 2011
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Big Oil could unlock big value by ditching dogma

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

Big Oil could unlock big value for shareholders. But to get there it needs to slaughter an industry sacred cow: the integration of the exploration and production business with refining and other activities. This model worked for decades but today accords a conglomerate discount to the likes of Exxon Mobil, Shell and BP. Splitting up, as smaller Marathon is doing, could add tens of billions of dollars to shareholders’ portfolios.

    • 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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