Fourth quarter results 2016

Commodity prices continue to squeeze oil majors, but a few weather the storm.

Global giant BP has reported a huge turnaround with a headline profit of $115m compared to a 2015 loss of $6.5bn.  This excludes the Gulf of Mexico legacy charges of $4.1bn. The fourth quarter 2016 underlying replacement cost profit was $400m with a full year 2016 of $2.6bn.  BP group Chief Executive Bob Dudley said the company has "adapted by cutting [its] controllable cash costs by $7bn from 2014 - a full year earlier than planned."

With its highest ever earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of €371m, lubricants independent Fuchs saw continued profitability in the financial year 2016.  Group sales revenues increased by 9%, or €188m, to a new record of €2.3bn. Meanwhile Dr. Manfred Fuchs, the deputy chairman of the Supervisory Board, is set to step down after the AGM on 5th May.  The Supervisory Board’s nomination for his successor is Dr. Susanne Fuchs who belongs to the third generation of the family.

There was mixed news for French company Total, with adjusted Q4 net income rising by 16% from the same quarter as 2015 - reporting $2.4bn. However, adjusted net income for 2016 was down 21% to $8.3bn from $10.5bn the previous year. Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné claimed the Group had the highest profitability among the majors.

It was a similar picture for Chevron, with total 2016 Q4 earnings moving into the black with a $415m profit against a $588m loss in 2015.  However, the full year was the total opposite, with 2015's $4.5bn earnings turning into a $497m loss in 2016.  Chairman and CEO John Watson blamed the impact of low oil and gas prices for the reversal.

Shell also saw a slight overall downturn, reporting Fourth Quarter 2016 CCS earnings attributable to shareholders of $1.0bn compared with $1.8bn for the same period in 2015. Full year 2016 CCS earnings were $3.5bn, slightly lower than 2015's $3.8bn. Shell's CEO, Ben van Beurden, stated the company is "gaining momentum on divestments, with some $15bn completed in 2016, announced, or in progress, and [the company is] on track to complete [its] overall $30bn divestment programme as planned."

There was a significantly greater 51% fall in earnings reported by ExxonMobil since 2015 at $7.8bn for 2016. Comparing the same Quarters one year apart, the company revealed a 40% drop from $2.8bn in 2015 to $1.7bn in 2016. Exxon claimed the figures reflect lower commodity prices and refining margins and a US Upstream asset impairment charge of about $2bn.

Although still reporting a loss, ConocoPhillips showed an improving financial picture with a fourth quarter 2016 net deficit of just $35m, compared with a $3.5bn loss for the same period in 2015. Excluding special items, Q4 2016 adjusted earnings showed a net loss of $318m, against a $1.1bn loss the previous year. Full year 2016 earnings were also in the red at $3.6bn, but an improvement on 2015's $4.4bn net loss.  Volatile commodity prices were again cited as the primary reason for the negative figures.

Meanwile, Conoco spin-off, Phillips 66, announced "disappointing" fourth quarter earnings of $163m compared with $511m in the third quarter of 2016. Adjusted earnings were $83m, a decrease of $473m from the previous quarter.  During the year, Phillips 66 Partners acquired Phillips 66 midstream assets for $1.3bn and raised $1.1bn through a debt offering.