The dark storm clouds that have been hanging over the oil industry during the crude-price slump have suddenly started raining cash.
After cutting billions of dollars of costs to survive the biggest downturn in decades, Big Oil is now riding a price rebound to generate enough cash to pay dividends and still have plenty left over. The big question is what they’re going to do with it.
Company bosses are at a crossroads. On the one hand, investors who stuck around during the price collapse want to see money returned through share buybacks. On the other, CEOs still have an eye on growth — either through investments, acquisitions, or both. On either path, they would still have to maintain hard-earned discipline on spending.