Chicago - Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell this week reported their lowest quarterly profits since 1999 and 2005, respectively. Chevron’s third straight loss marked the longest slump in 27 years, and BP lodged its lowest refining margins in six years.
Welcome to year two of a supply overhang so persistent it’s upsetting industry expectations that the market would return to a state of balance between production and demand. It’s left analysts befuddled and investors running to the doorways as the crude market threatened to tip into yet another bear market, dashing hopes that a slump that began in mid-2014 would show signs of abating.
Exxon missed analyst estimates by 23 cents a share and fell as much as 4.5% on Friday before recouping some of that decline. Chevron posted a surprise $1.47bn loss after booking $2.8bn in writedowns. The company’s per-share loss of 78 cents was in stark contrast to the 19- to 41-cent gains expected by analysts. BP and Shell registered similarly gloomy outcomes.