So who wins and who loses in this volatile environment? The winners are the oil majors that have systematically cut costs and rebased their activities to achieve profitability across their operations, even if prices stay around $50 a barrel for some time. In most cases, dividends are safe. The ability to do this is a mark of their continuing strength and resilience. They are now well positioned, as in past downturns, to pick up the pieces from other companies across the industry who are more dependent on high prices. A wave of consolidation seems likely. US president Donald Trump is a winner of sorts: he has argued for lower prices and has got what he wanted, but there could be costs as well if the price fall causes serious political instability. The losers are the producing countries that have failed to reduce their dependence on oil revenues or to make their national oil companies viable in a low-price world. They face a period of budget deficits, increased debts and reductions in both current spending and longer-term investment. Financial Times

Other contents