February 1, 2008
Patrick Hosking: Business Commentary
Some people are never satisfied. Shell may have made greater annual profits last year than any other European company ever, but as one City sceptic remarked yesterday, one should expect nothing less from a company that has over the past decade enjoyed a ninefold increase in the selling price of its main product, crude oil.
However, big oil companies are facing nasty headwinds, not just from soaring exploration and production costs and thinner downstream margins, but also from the paucity of new finds. They are having to forage deeper into ever-costlier and politically suspect territories to rootle out ever-piddlier new pockets of the black stuff. The easy finds were all made long ago.