U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil endured a dreadful year by virtually every measure in 2020.
The Irving, Texas-based company reported four consecutive quarters of losses, incurred the biggest write-down in its modern history, laid off thousands of employees, saw its market value plunge more than 40% and was dropped from the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average.
CEO Darren Woods has since said the last 12 months “presented the most challenging market conditions ExxonMobil has ever experienced.” It came as the coronavirus pandemic coincided with a historic fuel demand shock and a sharp drop in commodity prices.
Clark Williams-Derry, energy finance analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a nonprofit organization, told CNBC via telephone that Exxon’s underperformance in recent years means that simply getting back to the middle of the pack will be a step up.
“I think that it is possible that we will see all of these companies rebound in a way that makes it look like ‘hooray, the good times are here again,’ but then you realize what has happened over the last four years,” Williams-Derry said. “Moving forward, the global oil and gas industry faces a welter of new challenges — technological, social, and political — that it hasn’t faced in the past.”