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No, there is no mirror-ball trophy for the winner, as in the popular American reality TV series, Dancing with the Stars. But in the ballroom that is the oil field, operating and service companies are taking creative steps in strategic efforts for survival and growth. The fox trots, waltzes and tangos performed by the leading oil industry players, through acquisitions, mergers and collaborations in just over the last 15 years, are quite fascinating.
In August 1998, BP announced a $48.2-billion merger with Amoco. Within three months, Exxon merged with Mobil in a mammoth $81-billion transaction. The Total + Fina + Elf merger took place in 1999 and Chevron + Texaco took the plunge in 2001. As a result, the oil industry suffered a major contraction to match the loss in demand for petroleum products. The combined Exxon and Mobil employment in 1998 was 122,700. The workforce dropped to 88,000 in 2008, and since then, has risen to 99,100 in 2012. The primary trigger for these oil company mergers in the late 1990s was a precipitous drop in the oil price from $90/bbl in 1982 to $12/bbl in 1998.
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