Is Big Oil's Record Spending Eating Your Lunch?

Big oil companies like Chevron and ExxonMobil are spending record capex figures at a time when production increases are actually very hard to come by. Therefore growth for shareholders needs to be reevaluated especially since many rivals, most recently Anadarko Petroleum , look to shed non-core or geographically challenged assets in order to concentrate on projects that may be far less risky.

With both Chevron and Exxon seeing earnings pressured by weak refining margins, I believe the company may be more exposed to shareholder scrutiny of capital intensive projects. This has me thinking Chevron may be putting too much focus on LNG. I say that because I'm concerned the company's focus on LNG is making them very vulnerable to any economic weakness in Asia. As for Exxon, the company's $40 billion bet on XTO Energy has thus far been a black cloud due to natural gas prices at 40-year lows. The company now banking on long-term projects in Alaska, West Greenland, and Russia may see capex estimates rise even more. If Exxon doesn't raise its dividend like Chevron recently did, the behemoth energy player could find itself in a tighter position with shareholders than its oil sands in Canada. 


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John Licata has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Chevron. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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