As capex budgets for the five major integrated oil companies are historically a harbinger of the energy industry’s future, a research firm claims its recent finding could signal “a mature industry in decline.”

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) found that capital spending by Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Total SA, BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc in 2019—worth a combined $88.7 billion—was the lowest amount since 2007. The energy supergiants last year spent just half of what they did in 2013, when their operations distributed $165.9 billion worldwide.

“Diminishing capex should worry investors and serve as a warning that the oil and gas industry is not the cash cow it used to be,” wrote Kathy Hipple, IEEFA energy financial analyst and lead author, in a Feb. 26 briefing note. “Traditional businesses, like oil and gas exploration and production, refining and petrochemicals are all showing signs of stress.”

Already have an account? Log In

Thanks for reading Hart Energy.

Subscribe now to get unmatched coverage of the oil and gas industry’s entire landscape.

Get Access