|Bid||64.85 x 2900|
|Ask||64.86 x 1300|
|Day's range||64.75 - 65.20|
|52-week range||64.70 - 83.49|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.00|
|PE ratio (TTM)||18.90|
|Earnings date||30 Jan 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||3.48 (5.38%)|
|Ex-dividend date||07 Nov 2019|
|1y target est||77.76|
Big Oil will be in focus this week with supermajors ExxonMobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) reporting fourth-quarter earnings on Friday.
(Bloomberg) -- It’s almost as if the last decade never happened for Exxon Mobil Corp. shares.Once the gold-standard of Big Oil, the stock closed Monday at its lowest since October 2010, amid a slump in oil prices due to concerns about weak demand coupled with a glut. The S&P 500 also posted its worst one-day decline since October.But for Exxon, which dropped out of the index’s top 10 largest companies by market value for the first time last year, the malaise runs deeper than the state of the crude market.Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods is running a counter-cyclical strategy by plowing money in new oil and gas assets, at a time when many investors are urging energy companies to improve returns for shareholders. Some shareholders are even demanding a plan to move away from fossil fuels altogether.Exxon is betting on a “windfall of cash” to arrive from its investments sometime in the mid to late 2020s, said Noah Barrett, a Denver-based energy analyst at Janus Henderson, which manages $356 billion. “Right now there’s higher value placed on generating cash flow today.”Exxon is ramping up capital spending to more than $30 billion a year, without a hard ceiling, as it develops offshore oil in Guyana, liquefied natural gas in Mozambique, chemical facilities in China and the U.S. Gulf Coast, as well as a series of refinery upgrades. Woods is convinced the world will need oil and gas for the foreseeable future and sees an opportunity for expansion while competitors shy away from such long-term investments.Most of these investments “will not meaningfully begin contributing to earnings/cash flow until the 2023-2025 time frame,” Scotiabank analysts led by Paul Cheng said in a Jan. 23 note, downgrading the stock to the equivalent of a sell rating from hold. “We think it may be another one to two years before the market gives these efforts much credit.”In the short term, one consequence of those investments is that Exxon can’t fund dividend payouts with cash generated from operations, and must instead rely on asset sales and borrowing, according to Jennifer Rowland, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co. Exxon is the “clear outlier” among Big Oil companies on that front, she said. Exxon declined to comment.Exxon’s current challenges stem in large part from flag-planting deals made when commodity prices peaked during the past decade. It spent $35 billion on U.S. shale gas producer XTO Energy Inc. in 2010 when shale oil promised outsize returns. It has invested $16 billion in Canadian oil sands since 2009, only to remove much of those reserves from its books. Former CEO Rex Tillerson’s 2013 exploration pact signed with Russia was caught behind a wall of sanctions and later abandoned.Also read: Exxon in ‘Bull’s-Eye’ as Worst Year Since Reagan Nears End (Updates with analyst’s comment in 7th paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Kevin Crowley in Houston at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org, Christine Buurma, Reg GaleFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
ExxonMobil's (XOM) fourth-quarter 2019 profits are expected to have been affected by lower commodity prices and weak downstream earnings, partially offset by higher production.
ExxonMobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX), Royal Dutch Shell plc (RDS.A) and BP plc (BP) are scheduled to come out with fourth-quarter earnings in the next few days.
(Bloomberg) -- Oil fell to the lowest since October as China’s deadly coronavirus crippled the world’s second-largest economy and threatened worldwide energy demand.Futures shed 1.9% on Monday in New York. The coronavirus’s death toll climbed to at least 80 people and additional cases of infections underscored concerns that China has failed to contain the deadly virus despite its efforts to control the outbreak. China extended the Lunar New Year holiday by three days until Feb. 2, while companies in Shanghai have been asked not to start work until at least Feb. 9.The virus is the latest upheaval for the oil market, which has been struggling with demand concerns for months. Investors are selling crude and other commodities amid a broad withdrawal from riskier assets and fears the virus will curtail fuel consumption as travel is restricted. U.S. gasoline futures touched an 11-month low in intraday trading.Still, oil pared some of its earlier losses as Saudi Arabia assured markets that the world’s biggest crude exporter is closely monitoring the situation and its impact on oil markets.“I think it’s relieving some of the pressure,” Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research Inc. The Saudis are signaling that once the impact of the virus is clearer, they’re “willing to re-balance the markets,” Lynch said.Investors shrugged off an escalating crisis in Libya that could see the country’s output plummet to 72,000 barrels a day from 262,000 barrels according to National Oil Corp. Chairman Mustafa Sanalla.“The market is in a free-fall right now,” said Mark Waggoner, president of Excel Futures Inc. “Unless Libya is a big disruption to supply, everyone is going to concentrate on China,” he said.West Texas Intermediate for March delivery fell $1.05 to end the session at $53.14 a barrel at the New York Mercantile Exchange.Brent futures lost $1.37 to end at $59.32 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, putting its premium over WTI at $6.18 a barrel.The recent decline in prices could persist or worsen if the virus continues to spread, says Waggoner. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better. We need to see crude oil reach $50.50 before it becomes a buying opportunity again,” he said.See also: Viral China: Behind the Global Race to Contain a Killer Bug\--With assistance from Rakteem Katakey, Javier Blas, Saket Sundria and Aaron Clark.To contact the reporter on this story: Jackie Davalos in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Marino at firstname.lastname@example.org, Mike Jeffers, Catherine TraywickFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Valero Energy, Marathon Petroleum and Talos Energy
ExxonMobil Ups Guyana Recoverable Resources to More Than 8 Billion Oil-Equivalent Barrels, Makes Discovery at Uaru
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Exchange-traded funds that cater to environmental, social and governance principles are being pitched as a way for investors to sleep with peace of mind, but they better be prepared to wake up with something less than dreamy returns.Consider the iShares MSCI USA ESG Select Social Index Fund (SUSA), one of the oldest and largest ESG ETFs on the market. SUSA, which tracks the 100 stocks with the highest ESG ratings, has trailed the S&P 500 Index by 37 percentage points during the past 10 years.(1) (I honed in on SUSA because it has a long-term track record. Most ESG ETFs are very new.) The reason it lagged taps into one of the most important yet underreported aspects of ESG funds: surprising exclusions. While some of the stocks excluded from SUSA are obvious, such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp., some are less obvious, such as Amazon.com Inc., Netflix Inc., Ross Stores Inc. and Mastercard Inc. — all of which are up more than 1,000% during the past 10 years. Not having stocks like these is why SUSA couldn’t keep up with the overall market. Not to pile on here, but SUSA’s underperformance also came with a higher standard deviation, or level of volatility.This potential for underperfomance is why I think investors should take what I call “The Amazon Test” before buying an ESG ETF. It has two parts. The first is to simply ask whether you are willing to miss out on the next Amazon to “clean up” your portfolio. Or even better, if you want to do the leg work, compare the ESG ETF’s holdings to the appropriate broad index and comb through the differences. You may be surprised by what is included in the ETF. (In SUSA’s case, it does hold Facebook Inc. and Nike Inc., which many may find questionable.) I can guarantee investors will probably be a bit baffled.Of course it’s possible that the next Amazon is already in your ESG ETF and that the fund outperforms the market and everyone’s happy. SUSA could very well beat the market during the next 10 years. But investors need to be ready in case it doesn’t.I was curious how people would respond to this question, so I ran an informal Twitter poll and found that only a fifth of people were both interested in ESG and satisfied with missing the next Amazon. That means more than half of ESG-interested investors did not want to miss out on an Amazon, which tends to be excluded from ESG funds because of working conditions that put it on a worker-rights group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of the most dangerous employers in the U.S. Of course, not only highfliers are excluded from many ESG ETFs; so are some of the country’s most revered companies, which many people probably want to own. The best example is Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which is included in fewer ESG ETFs than Exxon and is practically excluded from all of them. It’s the second-lowest-ranked company by Sustainalytics(2) among the S&P 100 Index. Essentially, investors can have ESG or Buffett, but not both. So why is Buffett, one of the greatest investors and philanthropists the world has ever seen, not in these funds? One big reason is Berkshire’s board is only 57% independent, well below the 86% average. Buffett has signaled no intention of changing the company’s business practices. He implied the independent board is a poor metric, saying many such boards he has been on are independent on paper only, with many directors just looking for a payday and typically following the CEO’s lead. Buffett has also said he doesn’t want to burden subsidiary companies, one of which operates coal-fired plants, with unnecessary rules and costs.“We’re not going to spend the time of the people at Berkshire Hathaway Energy responding to questionnaires or trying to score better with somebody that is working on that. It’s just, we trust our managers and I think the performance is at least decent and we keep expenses and needless reporting down to a minimum at Berkshire.”Some have pushed back, saying that “surprising exclusions” are nothing new and exist in other areas such as smart-beta and theme ETFs. This is true, but there is one crucial difference: Those ETFs aren’t generally seeking to replace an investor’s entire equity portion of the portfolio. Because if the goal is to “sleep at night,” then what’s the point of putting a small allocation into an ESG ETF while still investing in other funds, like the Vanguard 500 Index Fund, which hold those “bad” companies you don’t want?(3)For those who are interested in ESG and don’t mind missing out on the next Amazon, the next part of my test is to ask whether they are willing to curb their consumption of the goods and services provided by those excluded companies. For example, are you going to continue to shop at Amazon, drive an SUV or take airplanes 10 times a year? If so, then what’s the point of not owning those stocks? You are just going to rob yourself of profits you helped create. I did an informal poll on this, too, and found only a fifth of those who were willing to miss out on Amazon were also willing to not shop there. Now, I’m not saying you need to live in the woods and eat bugs to be pure enough to be an ESG investor, but you should probably be willing to make some inconvenient choices as a consumer — because, let’s be honest, that’s where investors can truly make a company pay attention. Otherwise, a lot of this is demand trying to demonize supply to soothe its guilt and feel good inside. At the end of my little screening system here we are left with 5% of the investing world that I’d argue has the stomach and commitment to be messing around with ESG ETFs.(5) The rest either just don’t want ESG or are slacktivists — people who want to feel as if they are doing something but are unwilling to make any inconvenient sacrifices such as lagging the market or curbing parts of their lifestyles. These investors should probably just stick with owning the broad market. And while 5% may seem like a small amount, it would actually be a pretty solid base of investors for these ETFs. To convert that into dollars, 5% of ETF assets would equate to $200 billion, a respectable category. Currently, ESG ETFs have only about one-tenth of that amount. And yet there are about 100 products on the market. That’s $200 million per ETF, which is five to 10 times below the average of many other popular areas. Supply has so far outpaced the hype and demand in a way that’s never been seen in the ETF market.And it doesn’t look as if product proliferation will be slowing anytime soon. BlackRock’s Larry Fink recently announced a doubling of the company’s ESG ETF lineup, which means due diligence will be that much more cumbersome. And while this may come off as a bit of a downer to all the excitement around ESG, that’s not my intention. I’m not anti-ESG at all, but I am anti-nasty surprise. I just want to help make sure investors wake up with peace of mind, too.(1) SUSA has also lagged since inception in 2005 by 33% and by 4% over the past 5 years, though it is outperforming by 1% over the past year. And to show I'm not cherry-picking, the other veteran ESG ETF, the iShares MSCI KLD 400 Social ETF (DSI), has lagged the market by 30 percentage points over the past 10 years.(2) An equal-weighted basket of the 20 stocks in the S&P 100 with the lowest Sustainalytics Ranking outperformed the S&P 500 Index by 41% over the past seven years. Sustainalytics is an ESG research and ratings platform whose scores are used on the Bloomberg Terminal.(3) Now, if investors are seeking ESG ETFs because they think there is some premium to capture that can add alpha to their portfolios and they are only allocating a little, then there is less need for this test (although you can never go wrong with looking under the hood of a fund). But largely, ESG ETFs are being pitched and talked about as a “sleep at night” replacement, or a way to support companies that align with investors’ values.(4) Add in the fact that most people don’t know what ESG even stands for, let alone how the scoring systems (which all vary by the way) work, and you get a situation where the product proliferation and hype has far outpaced the education needed to use them.To contact the author of this story: Eric Balchunas at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Eric Balchunas is an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence focused on exchange-traded funds.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Crude posted the worst weekly decline in more than a year on concern that the spread of China’s coronavirus will cripple fuel demand. Brent futures sank 2.2% in London on Friday. Deaths from the coronavirus rose to at least 26 and China expanded travel restrictions for about 40 million people in an attempt to halt contagion. The U.S. is monitoring more than 60 people for potential infection and lawmakers said health authorities are expected to confirm a third case.The Asian virus has spooked traders even as the World Health Organization stopped short of declaring a global health emergency. The contagion is disrupting travel during the Lunar New Year holiday, when hundreds of millions normally fly or ride home. The selloff has accelerated as trend-following funds turned bearish, according to TD Securities.“Contagion fears are spiking ahead of the biggest yearly migration ahead of new year,” said Daniel Ghali, a commodities strategist at TD Securities. “The fear factor is the risk of contagion, synonymous to what happened in 2003 with SARS which led to a 2% drop in Chinese economic growth.”The fast-spreading virus is the latest challenge for a market that’s been buffeted this year by geopolitical turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the phase-one trade deal between Beijing and Washington. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said earlier this week that, if the coronavirus has an impact similar to the 2003 SARS epidemic, demand could be curbed by 260,000 barrels a day. While this is not the first time global oil markets contend with an epidemic threatening demand, the current supply environment could worsen the situation.“The slightest fear of any economic slowdown will spur a long wave of liquidations because the market is so oversupplied,” said Walter Zimmermann, chief technical strategist at ICAP Technical Analysis.Some businesses in China including McDonald’s Corp. and Starbucks Corp. temporarily shut some stores in efforts to contain the virus.See also: China’s Economy Was Brightening This Month Before Virus Fear HitBrent crude for March settlement fell $1.35 to settle at $60.69 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in New York putting its premium over WTI for the same month at $6.50 a barrel. Brent futures fell 6.4% this week.West Texas Intermediate futures for March delivery slipped $1.40 to end the session at $54.19 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest level since October. Meanwhile, based on the commodity’s relative strength index, WTI is sitting in oversold territory and is due for a rally.Options traders are paying the most since Oct. 31 for protection against price swings, according to the CBOE/CME WTI volatility index.\--With assistance from James Thornhill, Grant Smith and Saket Sundria.To contact the reporter on this story: Jackie Davalos in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Marino at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jessica Summers, Mike JeffersFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Exxon (XOM) doesn't possess the right combination of the two key ingredients for a likely earnings beat in its upcoming report. Get prepared with the key expectations.
Fears that the coronavirus outbreak in China would have a severe impact on oil demand was enough to offset the impact of U.S. Energy Department's latest inventory release.
(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil dodged a bullet last month when a judge rejected a novel climate-change lawsuit brought by New York’s attorney general. The case began with a promise from state officials that there would be a historic reckoning for the fossil fuel giant.It ended ignominiously as a failed accounting fraud claim.But that was just the beginning. Globally, humans are on the hook for trillions of dollars if they want to sufficiently reduce greenhouse gas emissions, acclimate to the damage already done and prepare for what is yet to come. As more governments and taxpayers find themselves staring down the barrel at rising climate costs, they are increasingly turning to the courts to hold Big Oil accountable.The New York case was an outlier—it sought to make Exxon Mobil investors whole for an alleged bookkeeping bait-and-switch. The majority of U.S. climate litigation out there takes a more direct approach, seeking damages in so-called public nuisance lawsuits. Fossil fuel use runs counter to the inherent right to exist in a non-warming world, the argument goes, and the energy companies knew that right would be infringed when enough of it was burned.About a dozen cities, counties and states have sued Exxon, Chevron, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and their peers. The suits seek to reimburse taxpayers for the costs associated with adapting to climate change—from building multibillion-dollar sea walls to repairing damage from powerful storms and, perhaps soon, moving whole communities inland.Federal appeals courts on both sides of the country are considering whether such cases may proceed. Their rulings—one of which may come any day—will have a powerful effect on the future of climate change litigation.“Through these cases, we will learn with great detail what the industry knew and when they knew it, and what they did to deceive the public about that knowledge,” said Lee Wasserman, director of the Rockefeller Family Fund, a charity that focuses in part on sustainability issues. “They are now leaving the public with an enormous bill.”And it’s not just Americans who are litigating the consequences of global warming. In the Netherlands, the supreme court recently upheld a landmark ruling forcing the government to combat climate change. The case has inspired similar lawsuits in France, Germany, New Zealand and Norway.In the U.S., there is precedent for such a massive attempt at legal redress. A few decades back, the tobacco industry was taken to court by a group of states after decades of holding individual litigants at bay. In the end, the companies settled for $246 billion and agreed to changes in the sale and marketing of cigarettes.But before history can repeat itself, climate litigants have to persuade judges (and the fossil fuel industry) that their lawsuits have a chance of succeeding. So far, their track record hasn’t been that great.Just last week, a novel case filed by a group of young Americans trying to force the government to address climate change was derailed by a federal appeals court panel. The two-judge majority concluded there is no constitutional right to a livable climate. (The plaintiffs say they will appeal.) Moreover, courts have been quick to note (as have defendants) that the production and use of fossil fuel by energy companies, utilities and manufacturers has been central to building modern civilization as we know it.Congress, and not the courts, is where the answer lies, industry lobbyists and lawyers say.Phil Goldberg serves as a special counsel to the National Association of Manufacturers. As such, he’s assumed a leading role in pushing back against climate litigation (an Exxon spokesperson deferred to him when asked about cases filed by Baltimore and Marin County, California). Goldberg argues that federal laws regulating the environment prevent states from foisting their own de facto regulation on the energy industry, and that nuisance suits are just regulation by another name.“They’re claiming that the mere act of selling oil, gas and other energy products is a liability-causing event because there’s downstream impacts from the use of their products,” he said. “There’s no liability if there are downstream impacts from legally using their products.”But since those “downstream impacts” are an accelerating global catastrophe, states and municipalities faced with a deadlocked Congress and a White House bent on unraveling existing climate regulations say the courts are their only hope. “Litigation,” said Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy and chief climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, “is essential to hold Big Oil accountable.”Public nuisance claims (what one judge recently called the “unreasonable interference” with a right “common to the general public”) have been made with varying degrees of success when it came to suits and settlements over lead paint, asbestos, opioids and of course tobacco. But making the theory work with fossil fuels is a different matter altogether.While “the potential liability is far greater,” Wasserman said, “courts have been known to shy away from their responsibility and pass the buck to another branch of government.”But just getting in the door may be enough, said Matt Pawa, a lawyer representing New York City in its climate litigation. If a city or state can survive a motion to dismiss its lawsuit, it usually means a company will be compelled to open its files and submit to depositions.“Important information comes out in litigation—the public learns what’s going on,” Pawa said. “The lawsuits, in a way, are shining a bright light on wrongful conduct.”The evidence climate litigants most want is proof of deception. Energy companies not only sold products they knew would damage the environment, plaintiffs claim, but spent millions of dollars over the decades purposely casting doubt on climate science.“For us, sea level rise is real, it’s not an abstraction.”California’s Marin County, at the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, was among the first municipalities to file a nuisance claim against the oil industry. Kate Sears, a county supervisor, said the decision in 2017 was based on actual changes to the physical environment rather than projections. A critical roadway in her community floods regularly due to rising waters from the nearby bay.“For us, sea level rise is real, it’s not an abstraction,” Sears said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate that my taxpayer residents should be on the hook to pay for damages caused by the actions of this industry.”Rhode Island sued oil and gas producers the following year, accusing them of putting its 400 miles of economically crucial coastline at risk. “They profited from what they did, and they knew the effects of what was coming, and they tried to cloud the science,” Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha said in an interview.In the Marin County case, defendant energy companies said the lawsuit “wrongfully calls into question” federal policies. In the Rhode Island litigation, the industry claimed the state is blaming oil companies for “global greenhouse gas emissions of countless actors, including Rhode Island and its residents.”These climate lawsuits, said Chevron spokesman Sean Comey, are “designed to punish a few companies in one industry who lawfully deliver” products to consumers. Exxon, Shell and BP either declined to comment or didn’t respond to requests seeking comment.Comey’s assertion does illustrate a problem with ascribing specific liability for global warming. Though the starring role of oil, gas and coal producers in the global climate crisis is irrefutable, figuring out how much of global warming is their fault as a whole—not to mention individual companies—may be impossible.For now, most climate cases are bogged down in fights over whether they belong in state or federal court. In October, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed three state court lawsuits to proceed while the jurisdiction fight proceeds. But lower-court federal judges have largely sided with defendants, rejecting nuisance suits by New York City, San Francisco and Oakland. All have been appealed. Other pending nuisance cases have been filed by King County, Washington; Boulder, Colorado; and the cities of Imperial Beach, Santa Cruz and Richmond, California.“Their theory rests on the sweeping proposition that otherwise lawful and everyday sales of fossil fuels, combined with an awareness that greenhouse gas emissions lead to increased global temperatures, constitute a public nuisance,” wrote U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco in a 2018 decision tossing out a climate lawsuit. That same year, U.S. District Judge John Keenan said, in dismissing New York City’s case against Exxon, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips and Shell, that the “immense and complicated problem of global warming” is for Congress and the administration to fix.A federal appeals court could decide on New York City’s challenge to Keenan’s ruling in the coming weeks, while oral arguments of appeals by San Francisco and Oakland are slated for Feb. 5 before another appellate panel. Decisions in those cases are likely to inform climate litigation choices by other states and cities.Chris Chrisman, a corporate defense lawyer with Holland & Hart in Denver, predicts the courts will ultimately side with the energy industry.“It’s a recognition of the limitations of what state nuisance laws were designed to accomplish,” said Chrisman, who represents energy companies but isn’t involved in the nuisance cases. “They might be able to address the adverse effects of a smokestack going up right next door to your house, but they’re not designed to address a global problem like climate change.”Unsurprisingly, lawyers for the plaintiffs don’t see it that way. They argue their nuisance claims are bolstered by evidence that fossil fuel companies knew the damage their products did, and actively sought to steer public debate elsewhere. Many of the suits also allege negligence for “failure to warn,” negligence for design defects, strict liability and trespass.“For us, sea level rise is real, it’s not an abstraction.”In a lawsuit filed by the City of Baltimore, lawyers said energy companies were on notice about their impact on the Earth’s atmosphere in 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson’s scientific advisory committee on environmental pollution warned that by 2000, humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions would “modify the heat balance of the atmosphere to such an extent that marked changes in climate … could occur.”Instead of taking action to prevent global warming, Baltimore said the defendants “embarked on a decades-long campaign designed to maximize dependence on their products and undermine national and international efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions.”Marin County pointed to a now-defunct industry group whose members included “affiliates, predecessors and/or subsidiaries” of some of the defendants. In 1991, the county alleged in its complaint, the group launched a national climate denial campaign that targeted “less-educated males” in order to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact).” One of the group’s ads stated “Who told you the Earth was warming ... Chicken Little?”Goldberg, special counsel to the National Association of Manufacturers, said such allegations of corporate deception are “all window dressing to try to drive the public opinion and judicial reaction to it.” The legal effort by climate litigants is evolving, however. In October, a state court case filed by Massachusetts included claims under consumer protection laws, arguing that Exxon misled residents and investors about the environmental impact of the gasoline they buy.“It’s a different kind of case,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in an interview. “Exxon made misrepresentations and failed to disclose material facts about systemic climate change risks.”Exxon, having moved the case to federal court for now, claimed in a November filing that Healey is trying to stop the company “from producing and selling fossil fuels.” In a response filed this month, Healey rejected the company’s argument. She instead compared her claims to tobacco litigation, saying it’s “deceptive advertising and marketing that the Commonwealth is seeking to stop.”Hana Vizcarra, a staff attorney at Harvard Law School’s Environmental and Energy Law Program, said the increasing need to find someone other than taxpayers to pay the costs of climate change will continue to drive state and local governments toward litigation. Nevertheless, she’s skeptical about their chances for victory.“Plaintiffs in the remaining cases may yet see some success at the state level as they refine their claims,” she said. “But the federal court decisions indicate this remains a difficult path.”To contact the author of this story: Erik Larson in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: David Rovella at firstname.lastname@example.orgFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo says it is "naive" to advocate for fossil fuel divestment, days after 17-year-old activist Greta Thunberg called on the world's elite to do so.
Shell (RDS.A) aims to tap the growing opportunities in the in-car payments space and offer better retail experience to its customers through payments from UConnect Market.
(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. plans to start gauging buyer interest in its U.K. and German upstream operations in the coming weeks as the oil major continues to divest overseas assets, people with knowledge of the matter said.The energy giant aims to start a sale process for its U.K. North Sea assets imminently, according to the people. It would then begin marketing its oil and natural gas assets in Germany to potential acquirers shortly afterward, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The two disposals could fetch more than $2 billion combined, they said.Big U.S. oil companies have been selling assets as they seek to focus efforts on their home market. Exxon exited Norway last year when it sold its oil and natural gas fields in the country to Var Energi AS for $4.5 billion. It has also been considering a sale of its offshore oil fields in Malaysia, which could fetch as much as $3 billion, Bloomberg News reported in October.Exxon has been working with investment bank Jefferies Financial Group Inc. to consider options for its U.K. North Sea assets. Its U.K. offshore operations are mainly managed through a 50-50 joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell Plc.The U.S. major is responsible for about 5% of the U.K.’s oil and gas production, supplying an average of 80,000 barrels of oil and 441 million cubic feet of gas a day, its website shows. In 2018, Exxon’s German assets produced about 45,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, according to a company operating review.Deliberations are at an early stage, and no final decisions have been made, the people said. Exxon could still decide to keep some of the assets, the people said.A representative for Exxon said the company continually reviews its assets for contributions toward its financial objectives as well as their potential value to others. The company declined to comment on specific transactions.Exxon said in November that the company’s $15 billion divestment program was running ahead of schedule. The company feels “really good” about the progress, its vice president of investor relations, Neil Hansen, said on a conference call at the time.(Updates with Germany production figures in fifth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Kevin Crowley, Rachel Graham, Vanessa Dezem and Julian Lee.To contact the reporters on this story: Dinesh Nair in London at email@example.com;Laura Hurst in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Scent at email@example.com, ;James Herron at firstname.lastname@example.org, Helen Robertson, Amanda JordanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Yahoo Finance speaks exclusively with Aramco Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan about climate change and the future of the oil industry.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Back in 1999, one of the most talked-about scenes in one of the most talked-about movies involved a dancing plastic bag. It was surely a more innocent time. Still, two decades on from American Beauty and its bag-shaped pretensions, this is an opportune moment to reiterate that it’s just trash. China has unveiled plans to curb the use of non-degradable plastic bags in supermarkets and malls across major cities as well as food-delivery services. The problem with plastic isn’t plastic, much of which is useful and likely irreplaceable. Rather, it’s that we produce a lot of low-value but long-lasting plastic — especially packaging — that overwhelms our waste-management capabilities (or inclinations, for that matter) and winds up polluting the planet. Plastic bags blowing about in a fall breeze aren’t, as the movie contends, a metaphor for the hidden wonders of suburbia; they’re an expression of failure.As my colleague David Fickling writes, growing demand for petrochemicals is an article of faith in the oil and gas business, and one that gets a lot more airing these days to offset the disquieting narrative of electric vehicles stalling out gasoline consumption. In its most recent Energy Outlook, BP Plc identified “non-combusted” demand for oil as the single-biggest source of projected growth through 2040, with single-use plastics accounting for almost 40% of that 5.5 million barrels a day.Under an alternative future in which governments phase out single-use plastics aggressively and ban them altogether by 2040, BP’s outlook has global oil demand peaking in the late 2020s. That seemed like a far-off jetpack era back when we were watching dancing bags but now looms with humdrum imminence. This matters a lot because the oil industry plans to invest north of $34 billion a year in petrochemicals through 2024, according to estimates from Sanford C. Bernstein — equivalent to building the entire fixed asset base of a supermajor, Chevron Corp.China’s latest plan isn’t anywhere near a worldwide moratorium on Ziplocs. Yet it presents a risk that goes beyond this or that forecast for oil demand.It just so happens that a day or two after Beijing’s announcement, the Bank for International Settlements released a new report called “The Green Swan.” This lays out risks posed to the global financial system by climate change and the limitations of current models in quantifying potential impacts. One point raised is that while economists traditionally support carbon pricing to mitigate climate change, “given the size of the challenge ahead, carbon prices may need to skyrocket in a very short time span towards much higher levels than currently prevail.” In other words, we left it too long, so we now need to make carbon prohibitively expensive.Analogous to that is the act of just prohibiting stuff — which is where China’s new regulations come in. Those aren’t carbon-related per se, but the mechanism is the same. In theory, a mixture of price signals, recycling programs and consumer education could moderate the problem of plastic pollution. In practice, less than a fifth of plastic is recycled, a finding sometimes framed as a growth-driver for the industry. The relatively low value of the product, use of mixed plastics and general consumer confusion over what goes into what recycling bucket are big obstacles to getting that figure higher.Faced with that, more national and local governments are choosing to effectively set the “price” for certain plastics at some level tending to infinity by just banning them. In that sense, the difficulties of recycling may be less a bull argument for plastics and more a precursor to drastic measures.The resort to policies of interdiction, rather than market-led solutions, is itself a green swan: fiat dislocation that is hard to model. It doesn’t take a global ban on single-use plastics to present a problem to an oil industry that has (a) made petrochemicals a central part of its growth story and (b) begun deploying billions already in projects ranging from Saudi Arabian Oil Co.’s Asian joint ventures to Exxon Mobil Corp.’s shale-linked crackers on the Gulf coast.“To stop plastic use entirely will be hard, but to kill demand growth will require solutions for only 3% of global demand each year,” writes Kingsmill Bond, energy strategist at Carbon Tracker and co-author of a forthcoming report on the future of plastic demand. An ethylene plant running at 60% of capacity wouldn’t be stranded per se, but it wouldn’t be a must-own either.The cloud of uncertainty gathering over future oil demand raises the industry’s cost of capital, manifested in demands for higher cash payouts. BlackRock Inc.’s Larry Fink made much the same point in last week’s climate letter (including the potential for green swans, though he didn’t use that phrase). Today’s teenagers don’t sit around filming pollution; they head to Davos and lambast tycoons about it. In this sense, China’s bag ban may be less important for its specific impact on oil volumes and more for its general impact on expectations of growth and thereby sentiment and risk premiums for oil-related assets. Much as I hate to admit it, sometimes a bag is more than just a bag.To contact the author of this story: Liam Denning at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Gongloff at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Liam Denning is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering energy, mining and commodities. He previously was editor of the Wall Street Journal's Heard on the Street column and wrote for the Financial Times' Lex column. He was also an investment banker.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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