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Big Oil - Statistics & facts

Used as a term to describe the world’s six largest and most influential publicly traded oil and natural gas producers – Big Oil refers to BP, Chevron, Eni, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, and Total. The group has its origins in the so-called Seven Sisters, who controlled most of the known global oil reserves and as a result dominated the petroleum market in the mid 20th century. Following multiple mergers, the Seven Sisters now form four of the six Big Oil companies and have become some of the largest companies in the world.
Big Oil is distinct from the term Oil Majors, which encapsulates the largest oil companies by tanker chartering. State-owned counterparts to Big Oil are oil and gas producing heavyweights such as OPEC’s Saudi Aramco and Gazprom, and China’s Sinopec Group.

Big Oil generated a combined revenue of over 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars in the 2019/20 fiscal year, with Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Royal Dutch Shell spearheading the group. This was despite Shell’s revenue having declined by eleven percent in the previous year. Chinese competitors Sinopec and PetroChina led the ranking of largest oil and gas companies by revenue, with the former alone bringing in nearly 400 billion U.S. dollars. Shell also holds the greatest assets of any Big Oil company. In 2019, Shell’s total assets amounted to 404 billion U.S. dollars. By comparison, Total’s assets had reached 273 billion U.S. dollars.

Although having seen lower revenues than Shell, ExxonMobil is the most valuable supermajor in the world. As of June 2020, the U.S. headquartered company had a market capitalization of 231 billion U.S. dollars. Of the five most valuable oil and gas companies, four were part of Big Oil. In 2019, ExxonMobil's liquids production was the greatest in the past five years, with an output of nearly 2.4 million barrels per day. Fellow U.S. based company Chevron had a daily liquids production volume of roughly 1.86 million barrels. Of this, 724,000 barrels were pumped from oilfields in the company’s home market, an increase of nearly 50 percent since 2015.

Across the Atlantic, United Kingdom based BP has also ramped up its oil and gas supply. In 2019, BP’s natural gas production reached a peak of over 9 billion cubic feet per day and held reserves of over 45.6 trillion cubic feet. The company’s continental competitor, Eni had a natural gas output of 5.29 billion cubic feet per day that year, making it the company’s most productive year within the past decade.

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Big Oil

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Net income

Total assets

Number of employees

Oil and gas production


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