The first thing I do when I get up every morning is to curse the oil companies as blood sucking scourges of modern civilization.
I then fall down on my knees and thank God that we have the oil companies.
This is why petroleum engineers are getting $100,000 straight out of college, while English and political science major are going straight on to food stamps.
I recommend (XOM) and other oil majors as part of any long-term portfolio. In my lifetime, the price of oil has gone up from $3 a barrel up to $149.
The reasons for the ascent keep growing, from the entry of China into the global trading system, to the rapid growth of the middle class in emerging nations. They’re just not making the stuff anymore, and we can’t wait around for more dinosaurs to get squashed.
Big oil companies aren’t in the oil speculation business. As soon as a new supply comes on stream, they hedge off their risk through the futures markets or through long-term supply contracts. You can find the prices they hedge at in the back of any annual report.
This is why the oil crash barely caused the shares of oil majors to move. Exxon Mobil shares are now down only 15%, while its principal product is off by an astounding 80% from its 2011 top.
When oil made its big run to $149 a few years ago, I discovered to my amazement that (XOM) had already sold most of their supplies in the $20 range. However, oil companies do make huge killings on what is already in the pipeline.
Working in the oil patch 15 years ago pioneering the “fracking” process for natural gas, I got to know many people in the industry. I found them to be insular, God fearing people not afraid of hard work.
Perhaps this is because the black gold they are pursuing can blow up and kill them at any time. They are also great with numbers, which is why the oil majors are the best-managed companies in the world.
They are also huge gamblers. I swallow hard when I see the way these guys throw around billions in capital, keeping in mind past disasters, like Dome Petroleum, the Alaskan Pipeline oil spill, Piper Alpha, and more recently, the ill-fated Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico.