Oil majors to stage sharp rebound due to crude's modest revival

Jessica Morris
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(FILES) This picture taken on February 1
BP will kick off oil major earnings season this week (Source: Getty)

Oil majors' second quarter earnings will show a sharp rebound when they're released next week, largely due to a modest recovery in the world's stricken oil markets.

BP will kick off proceedings when it reports on 26 July, followed by Total and Shell on 28 July and Exxon and Chevron a day later.

"Oil majors' second quarter 2016 earnings are expected to recover strongly from first quarter trough levels, largely driven by a ... rebound in brent prices," analysts at HSBC wrote in a note.

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Crude prices averaged $47 per barrel from April to June, about a third higher than the previous quarter.

Cost-cutting exercises enacted to weather lower-for-longer oil prices should have helped the companies' upstream sectors, which are tasked with searching, drilling and subsequently extracting the black stuff.

HSBC said: "We expect all majors to report positive upstream earnings ... in the second quarter. As a reminder, half of our coverage posted upstream losses at similar oil prices just two quarters ago."

These operations were particularly hard hit by the oil rout which started in the middle of July 2014. This is because production costs remained largely fixed, while product prices tumbled.

Oil majors' sector which refine, market and sell crude products are likely to have remained a key growth driver in the second quarter, despite higher oil prices.

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This is because refining margins were higher across all regions, except the Singapore benchmark, HSBC said.

But it's unclear how long the good times will last, with oil prices losing some momentum recently.

While they hit a 2016 high above $50 per barrel on 8 June largely due to output outages in Opec member Nigeria, oversupply concerns have helped crude shed around 8.6 per cent so far this month.

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