Tom, I made a lot of my money in oil, and I did it by learning the oil market inside and out.
Do you realize how LITTLE ExxonMobil or Shell make from retail gasoline sales? Gasoline sales contribute less that ten-percent (usually less than eight percent) to their bottom line every year.
The money is made on the OIL. It costs ExxonMobil about $6 to get a barrel of oil out of the ground, and they can then sell that barrel of oil (even to their own refineries) for $105. THAT is where the money is - the E&P side.
The R&M side dossn't make a ton of money, and most of its revenue comes from petro-chemical sales.
Given a choice, ExxonMobil would love to sell off the R&M side (they already sold the retail "M" portion - every Exxon or Mobil station is independently owned) and like Apache, concentrate on the E&P side only. This is especially true since they bought out XTO and are positioning themselves to become the premier natural gas supplier in the country.
So if you don't want to buy Exxon-Mobil or Shell, fine. There is a nice Chinese gentleman, or an Indian gentleman, or a French, German, or Italian gentleman who will gladly fork over $105 for that next barrel and ExxonMobil or Shell won't even have to bother refining it.
They already made their money.
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