From Business Week online March 20, 2008:
. . . If you want to understand why Exxon won't produce more, it helps to listen in to ExxonMobil's presentation to analysts in New York City in early March. Halfway through the three-hour meeting, Exxon management flashed a chart that showed the company's worldwide oil production staying flat through 2012. . . .
Yet even with prices at the pump near all-time highs, Exxon isn't planning on producing any more oil four years from now than it did last year. That means the company's oil output won't even keep pace with its own projections of worldwide oil demand growth of 1.2% a year. . . .
"We don't start with a volume target and then work backwards," Instead, he said, his team examines the available investment opportunities, figures out what prices they'll likely get for that output down the road, and places their bets accordingly. "It really goes back to what is an acceptable investment return for us."
-- Exxon Chairman Rex Tillerson
. . . Since 2000, Exxon's oil output from two of its largest regions, the U.S. and Europe, declined a startling 37%. That's 500,000 fewer barrels a day in just seven years. . . .
Exxon plans on bringing new fields online in Russia, the Middle East, and Africa over the next four years but they won't be enough to generate growth beyond what the company is losing due to the maturation of its fields in the North Sea and Alaska, the nationalization of its fields in Venezuela, and volumes lost due to production sharing agreements with other countries. . . .
Big oil companies can continually miss their targets or even target no growth and still shine on Wall Street due to the peculiar nature of commodity businesses. Less supply of a commodity means higher prices. Higher oil prices mean more profits for the oil companies. Exxon shares have risen 21% in the past year—and even closed a bit higher on Mar. 5, the day of its analysts meeting.