IEEFA update: ExxonMobil rebooking Canadian oil sands reserves

Raises new questions about financial reporting

March 29, 2019 (IEEFA U.S.) – ExxonMobil’s recent 10K filing for 2018 shows it has rebooked 3.2 billion barrels of Canadian oil sands reserves, increasing its worldwide reserves from 21.2 billion barrels in 2017 to 24.3 billion barrels in 2018, a 13% increase.

Market not exactly robust, with an outlook that is not exactly rosy

In a briefing note, ExxonMobil’s Prodigal Reserves Return: Company Rebooks 3.2 Billion Barrels, IEEFA analysts Tom Sanzillo and Kathy Hipple express skepticism over this move.

The IEEFA analysts raise concerns about the reporting, specifically:

  • During 2018, no other company doing business in the oil sands has rebooked oil sands assets.
  • Cenovus, Imperial, Suncor and Teck Resources all posted weak upstream oil sands results for 2018.
  • During 2018, the price of Canadian oil sank to historic lows due to a confluence of factors.
  • All of the major oil companies doing business in Canadian oil sands industry lagged the S&P 500 during 2018, including Imperial Oil.
  • Since the beginning of 2019, as oil prices have begun to rebound, the stock prices of Suncor and Cenovus (and the rest of the oil and gas industry globally) have picked up.

ExxonMobil’s competitors will probably not complain, despite the obvious advantage the company gains from its recent rebooking. ExxonMobil and Teck Resources are nearly the only bulls left in the oil sands.

IEEFA Brief: ExxonMobil’s Prodigal Reserves Return: Company Rebooks 3.2 Billion Barrels

Author Contacts

Tom Sanzillo ([email protected]) is IEEFA’s director of finance.

Kathy Hipple ([email protected]) is an IEEFA financial analyst.


The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) conducts global research and analyses on financial and economic issues related to energy and the environment. The Institute’s mission is to accelerate the transition to a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy.

Media contact

Vivienne Heston, IEEFA, [email protected], +1 (914) 439-8921

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