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A year ago, I wrote that ExxonMobil had decided not to compete for new international opportunities because the global environment had become overly competitive and over-valued (“Winner’s Curse,” World Oil, April 2008). A review of recent investor presentations by Chevron, Shell, BP and ConocoPhillips suggests that the other international oil companies have adopted similar positions. The upstream portfolios of the majors are dominated by exploitation of existing assets, new field startups, LNG and oil sand projects, and onshore North American tight gas and shale gas plays. While the major oil companies occasionally participate in remote or ultra-deepwater international bid rounds, smaller independents such as Heritage Oil Ltd. and Tullow Oil PLC are making substantial discoveries in areas that the majors evaluated in the past and apparently dismissed.
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