NEW: World's Top 10 Listed Oil Companies

Find out who the current corporate leaders of global oil trade are

Mega projects such as Qatar's Pearl GTL facility played a major role in helping Shell maintain its number 1 spot in our rankings for the second year.
Mega projects such as Qatar's Pearl GTL facility played a major role in helping Shell maintain its number 1 spot in our rankings for the second year.

A new year in the oil and gas industry brings with it a new set of financial results reflecting the operating prowess of the industry’s biggest oil companies. For anyone following the industry, the past year has been anything but boring, whether it was the disaster that unfolded before the world’s eyes in the Gulf of Mexico or the fast developing shale gas boom in North America.

The past year saw a number of strategic alliances being made or strengthened across the energy sector in the name of breaking new technological ground and new geographies. The Middle East got its fair share of attention from the industry giants. Abu Dhabi’s massive sour gas project at Shah finally saw a partner in the shape of Occidental Petroleum to fill the void left nearly a year ago by ConocoPhillips.

Qatar, shortly after securing a bid to host the 2022 World Cup gave the green light to ExxonMobil to start development of the US$8.6 billion offshore Barzan gas field project. The major sporting event along with the peninsular state's fast-growing economy will surely call for expansion of it gas-fuelled power generating infrastrucutre.

To compile this formidable list of oil industry kings, we referred to the much respected ranking metrics of the latest Forbes’ annual Global 2000 list of the world’s leading companies from 2010 according to their asset value.

As Chinese oil major Sinopec seems to have fallen just outside the ranks of our top 10 compared to our last survey which saw it at tenth place, it only seems fitting that we give the company an honourable mention despite the increasing gap (in terms of asset value) between it and current tenth placeholder ConocoPhillips. 


  1. Royal Dutch Shell
  2. BP
  3. Gazprom
  4. ExxonMobil
  5. Petrobras
  6. Total
  7. PetroChina
  8. Chevron
  9. ENI
10. ConocoPhillips
11. Sinopec

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All figures in US$ (billions)
Numbers in brackets indicate where the company placed on the Forbes Global 2000 list of 2010.

1. (8) Royal Dutch Shell (Netherlands)

Sales: 278.19 Profits: 12.52 Assets: 287.64 Market value: 168.63

Europe’s largest oil company posted an amazing 90% increase in earnings for 2010 and it looks like a strong fourth quarter 2010 oil price rally which hovered around US$90 helped it to end the year US$18.6 billion better off.

At the time of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, CEO Pete Voser did voice concern over how it could affect the industry, suggesting that it could significantly impact offshore operations, resulting in potentially more regulation and higher costs.

The wholesale sell off of some $30 billion worth of assets put in motion by Voser in the wake of the recession and as part of the its monumental streamlining, certainly didn’t hurt the Dutch oil major.

An improvement in production activities - most notably the world’s first offshore gas production at the Qatargas 4 LNG facility – continue to pave the way for Shell to achieve its 11% increase in oil and gas production by 2012.

In the Forbes Global 2000 Shell ranks at eighth place with just over $50 billion in assets separating it from its nearest competitor BP.

2. (10) BP (UK)

Sales: 239.27 Profits: 16.58 Assets: 235.45 Market value: 167.13

Still licking its wounds from the fallout of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill last April, BP made its first loss in two decades. The British oil giant set aside US$40 billion to compensate businesses impacted by the worst oil spill in US history that resulted after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded killing 11 workers in April of last year.

The past 12 months for the British oil giant could be seen as one long damage control exercise that still bares the scars, financially, economically and for the communities on the Gulf of Mexico coast, environmentally.

In its overall energy outlook, BP predicts that in the long term the demand for energy to be as strong as ever particularly in Asia where a strong stimulus from rising economic giants China and India is likely to be the key driver.


3. (16) Gazprom (Russia)
Sales: 115.25 Profits: 24.33 Assets: 234.77 Market value: 132.58

Russian state-run oil and gas company, Gazprom was established in 1989, then known as Gazprom State Gas Concern. Its revenues are mainly derived from sales of natural gas, crude oil and other hydrocarbon products to customers in Western and Central Europe, Russia and other former Soviet countries. The company owns the world’s largest gas transmission system serving Russian and international customers via long-distance pipelines.

The company has set up a budget that will see it invest nearly US$30 billion in 2011 in domestic gas field development as well as major trans-national pipeline projects such as South Stream which will supply European markets. In an unconventional move, part of the budget has been earmarked for construction and development work of the Winter Olympic venues in Sochi which will take place in 2014.


4. (4) ExxonMobil (USA)
Sales: 275.56 Profits: 19.28 Assets: 233.32 Market value: 308.77

Although it currently trails the likes of Shell and BP on our top 10 list, ExxonMobil benefited from the higher crude oil prices that much of its peers in the industry also capitalised on. Better returns from its chemicals production operations have had a positive impact on its earnings by year end 2010.

Like Shell, the US oil giant is pursuing major activities in Qatar and with the tiny Gulf state winning the chance to host the 2022 football World Cup, ExxonMobil won the right to jointly develop the offshore Barzan gas field with state-owned Qatar Petroleum, a contract worth US$8.6 billion.

In its ‘Outlook for Energy: A View to 2030’ report, Exxon expects that natural gas will increasingly play a bigger role in the overall energy mix going forward. This is particularly true for the United States where unconventional gas supplies such as shale are expected to meet more than 50% of gas demand by 2030.


5. (18) Petrobras (Brazil)
Sales: 104.81 Profits: 16.63 Assets: 198.26 Market value: 190.34

As a leader in the Brazilian oil industry, Petrobras is aiming to be amongst the top five energy companies in the world by 2020. The company is present in 28 countries and its 2010-2014 business plan foresees investments in the order of US$174.4 billion.

The company commands reserves of 11.19 billion barrels and owns 112 production platforms helping it achieve 1.97 million barrels a day of production, a strong earning sector for the Brazilian economy.

Brazil is said to be sitting on top of what is said to be one the world’s largest oil reserves estimated to hold as much as 110 billion barrels of oil. The only catch is that much of it lies under a layer of compressed sea salt known as pre-salt which sits 3 miles below the Atlantic seabed off the Brazilian coast. To compound matters, the seabed is nearly 2 miles below the surface.

Petrobras’ drilling capacity allows it to reach depths of just over a mile, this would force the state-owned company to turn to foreign drilling technology providers if it wants to reap the windfall that is likely to be generated by producing from these pre-salt reservoirs.


6. (19) Total (France)
Sales: 160.68 Profits: 12.10 Assets: 183.29 Market value: 131.80

French energy producer Total managed to weather the tough economic climate by focusing on global exploration and production and particularly in unconventional gas reserves such as booming shale gas scene in the United States.

The company is also making significant strides in recognising its responsibilities towards the local communities where it operates. In its Akpo deepwater operations off the Nigerian coast, Total has invested in hiring Nigerian staff on its floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel. For its pilot carbon capture and storage project in Lacq in the south of France, said to be the first end-to-end carbon capture, transportation and storage facility in Europe, Total actively engaged with local communities to explain the new procedures and technologies involved.

Like many of its peers, Total is also pursuing opportunities in alternative energy such as biofuels and solar energy.

In November 2009, total signed a research agreement with the Massachusetts institute of technology (Mit) to develop efficient, low-cost and long-life batteries to store the electricity produced by solar panels. In December 2010 Total announced that it has acquired an interest in Elevance Renewables Sciences, a Chicago-based company developing technology to convert renewable oils, such as vegetable oils, into low cost and high value, performance chemicals.


7. (12) PetroChina (China)
Sales: 157.22 Profits: 16.80 Assets: 174.95 Market value: 333.84

To be China’s largest oil and gas producer and distributor is no mean feat for a nation of over a billion customers, but PetroChina owned by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) makes that claim boldly.

As China’s economy grows exponentially, it is naturally likely to call on greater amounts of energy both domestically but mostly internationally.

The company saw crude oil imports rise to 32.5% to 117 million tonnes in the first half of 2010 whilst domestic output was just over 98 million tonnes.

PetroChina made $6.9 billion of acquisitions in countries from Australia to Singapore in the past two years and has said it plans to spend at least $60 billion to buy assets this decade.


8. (20) Chevron (USA)
Sales: 159.29 Profits: 10.48 Assets: 164.62 Market value: 146.23

Chevron, the second-largest oil and gas company in the United States produced close to 2.8 billion barrels of oil last year, the majority of which was produced from outside the US. The 130-year-old company is a major player in the production business and is involved in its every aspect. It holds the largest natural gas resource position in Australia through the Gorgon and Wheatstone projects, the Browse Basin, and the North West Shelf Venture.

A long drawn-out environmental pollution court case in Ecuador involving Chevron is sure to dampen its spirits and reputation, especially as news comes in that the energy major been fined close to US$10 billion for environmental damages to the Amazon rainforest where it operates.

The company’s 2010 budget of $21.6 billion helped it focus its spending on large multiyear upstream projects whilst cutting back on investments in processing and refining.

It is also investing in renewable energy particularly on enhancing its geothermal energy business — considered to be the largest in the world — whilst expanding its energy efficiency business and developing nonfood biofuels.

The company is pushing ahead with deepwater exploration and development offshore the UK, Canada and Brazil despite the events of the BP oil spill.

 9. (31) Eni (Italy)
Sales: 121.01 Profits: 6.27 Assets: 163.52 Market value: 82.22

With a presence in 77 countries around the world, employing 78,400 employees, Italy’s Eni makes the ninth spot on our top 10 list of the world’s largest listed oil companies. The company saw its full year 2009 adjusted basis net profit drop by nearly 50% from the previous year which it said reflected in lower exploration and production results and poor refining margins.

In its 2009 annual report, Eni stated that it targeted a production level in excess of 2 mmboe/d by 2013, with an average annual growth rate higher than 2.5%, based on a US$65/bbl price scenario. With current crude prices in upper $80 mark, the company can afford to widen its production ambitions.

In 2010 Eni extended its strategic partnership with third placeholder Gazprom to work together on industrial and commercial activities. In 2009 both companies celebrated the 40th anniversary.

10. (39) ConocoPhillips (USA)
Sales: 136.02 Profits: 4.86 Assets: 152.59 Market value: 72.72

Entering the top 10 rundown of the biggest listed oil companies in the world is ConocoPhillips. Overall market volatility, tough operating conditions over the past year coupled with US$10 billion worth of asset divestments and reduced capital spending, are only a part of company’s tumultuous story in recent months. It led the way in Big oil job cuts in 2009 by cutting its workforce by 10%.

For observers of the US oil major’s Middle East operations, such news may not come as much of a surprise seeing as it has managed to pull out of two major regional oil and gas projects in the space of a month in April 2010 and effectively burning its bridges with ADNOC (Shah Gas Development) and Saudi Aramco (Yanbu export refinery project).

The company is now putting greater focus on upstream operations where it predicts that the segment will make up between 80 and 85% of its portfolio which may go some way to explain its somewhat erratic behavior.

11. (45) Sinopec-China Petroleum (China)
Sales: 208.47 Profits: 4.37 Assets: 110.66 Market value: 130.06

For China Petroleum Corporation (Sinopec), being the first of two Chinese oil companies appearing in our top ten for the second time is testament to the fact that China – now the world’s second largest economy - has well and truly joined the ranks of being home to one of the world’s major oil companies.

The financial crisis that hit the Chinese economy in 2009 forced Beijing to implement a stimulus package to promote economic growth and maintain its GDP growth of 8.7%. Sinopec, the country’s second-largest refining and gas company benefited from the macro-economic adjustment as it offset its upstream and downstream investments.

In October 2010, exercising its international reach Sinopec agreed to jointly develop its offshore assets in Brazil with Spanish energy company Repsol to create one of Latin America’s largest private energy companies valued at nearly US$18 billion.

Recognising its environmental responsibilities, Sinopec cut its CO2 emissions by 16.3%, meeting its energy-saving goal a year earlier than planned. The company is also actively exploring alternative and renewable energy sources as part of boosting its green credentials.


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