Big Oil Wants You to Meet Its Invisible Friend


Natural gas: It’s the new oil. Except not really.

Natural gas has become an ever-more-important part of the oil majors’ business over the years. As my colleagues at Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday, the industry’s discoveries of gas have outstripped those of oil in each of the past four years.

Big Oil — taken here to mean Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Total — has been getting less oily for a while. In 2001, their aggregate oil output was almost 10.1 million barrels a day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg — more than Saudi Arabia’s at that time. By 2015, it had dropped by more than 1.5 million barrels a day, or almost 16 percent, losing ground to both national oil companies — including Saudi Aramco — and independent E&P companies, especially those pioneering shale development.

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