Nearly a year ago, as we bid adieu to 2008, we might have expected the members of Big Oil to take off on a shopping spree. As it turned out, though, demand for energy has come from a completely different place: China.
Cheap oil's last gasp
Recall that late last year, crude prices were in the latter stages of plummeting from close to $150 a barrel to as low as around $30. Given that freefall, it seemed logical for the majors to begin feasting on some of the smaller players in the industry -- or even on each other. Indeed, some fully expected the latter to occur. The first week of the year brought with it a prediction from BusinessWeek that we should "expect two or more mergers among Big Oil."
Yet while that wasn't a silly prediction in itself, the publication's primary forecast that Shell
Where the action is
There were some mergers of note among Western oil companies, perhaps most notably the combination of Canada's Suncor
Moreover, that trend seems likely to continue. Earlier this year, CNOOC
Many energy-lovin' Fools know I have a high regard for companies like Exxon and BP. But the majors of the Western world are hardly the only way to play the sector -- which should be a part of all our portfolios. My advice to Fools is to keep tabs on CNOOC. It's popping up everywhere, and that's unlikely to change.