After one of the most difficult years in the oil industry's history, crude prices have recovered and major producers are finally generating spare cash. Investors really want to get their hands on it, but most are likely to be disappointed.

That's because the pandemic has created a legacy of debt for the world's biggest international oil companies, many of which borrowed to fund their dividends as prices crashed.

For Exxon Mobil Corp. and Total SE, which bore the financial strain of maintaining shareholder payouts last year, any extra cash will go to easing debt. Chevron Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc have said they want to resume buybacks, but not yet. Only BP Plc is dangling the possibility that shareholder returns could improve soon, after a year and a half of flip-flopping over its payout policy.

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to Treasury & Risk, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical Treasury & Risk information including in-depth analysis of treasury and finance best practices, case studies with corporate innovators, informative newsletters, educational webcasts and videos, and resources from industry leaders.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and Treasury & Risk events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.