LOW PRICES – LOW CARBON: CAN BIG OIL SURVIVE?
“Big Oil” – the major international and national oil companies – is facing possibly its biggest challenge and threat to its survival yet. Demand has slowed due to global economic stagnation. The explosion of shale oil and gas production in the USA led to an unprecedented decision by OPEC in November 2014 to maintain production levels to regain lost market share. In turn that has led to crude prices falling by over
50% to trade in the low $40 per barrel range in December 2015. In its December
2015 meeting, OPEC maintained current production levels, which will result in a predicted 700,000 bpd oversupply for 2016; higher crude prices are not just round the corner.
If all that was not enough, the UN Convention on Climate Change in Paris appears to be brokering some serious global commitment and resolve by most governments to limit global warming and climate change by transition to low-carbon economies and sound the death-knell for fossil fuel use, and thus fossil fuel companies.
Your assignment task is to research how “Big Oil” is facing up to these challenges, and whether any strategic thinking and change is demonstrated in their public pronouncements and forward-thinking.
In a 2,000-word Essay you should outline the views of the industry, and not just concentrate on one particular oil company. In particular, you should discuss 3 main areas that are becoming increasingly challenging for oil companies:
• The cash crunch of sub-$50/bbl. oil on projects and dividends;
• Whether to abandon production-maximizing policies;
• planning by oil companies to plan for a low-carbon global world.
Your own interpretations and conclusions from your researches are fundamental. Supporting your own arguments in a robust and objective manner will qualify for better marks than a simple re-statement of the data and opinion found in the research. This should be a high-level review; the allowed word count is a deliberate constraint, so make sure you discuss all the 3 themes highlighted above, and do not get drawn into too much detail.
• Demonstrate an understanding of the interrelationship of the factors affecting management performance in different sectors of the worldwide oil and gas industry
• Critically analyze the historical and current policies issues and options related to the global oil and gas industry.
• Clear demonstration of rigorous research from recognized authoritative sources. Audience focus. Meeting the deliverables.
• Constructive critical analysis, introduction, conclusion. Demonstration of a clear understanding of the issues. Use of academic models. Full articulation of ideas developed. Offering well- argued solutions and/or alternatives if and where appropriate.
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