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日本羽毛球队员: 巴菲特投資了這家石油公司,不管油價漲跌都會賺錢

羽毛球场尺寸高度 www.odmvv.icu Jen Wieczner 2019年05月22日

西方石油公司的首席執行官維姬·霍魯布從沃倫·巴菲特手中獲得了100億美元的籌碼,這是美國石油領域最大的一手牌。但現在還沒到宣布勝利的時候。

加大賭注:西方石油公司首席執行官維姬·霍魯布剛剛在石油行業占了一大塊地盤。圖片來源:Tim Pannell—The Forbes Collection/Contour by Getty Images

今年4月底的星期五,沃倫·巴菲特接到美國銀行首席執行官布萊恩·莫尼漢的電話,問他會不會支持西方石油公司對競爭對手阿納達科的收購。兩天后,西方石油公司的首席執行官維姬·霍魯布親自出馬飛往奧馬哈,當面請求全世界最著名的投資者出手。巴菲特只考慮了一小時便同意了。

隨后的星期天,伯克希爾-哈撒韋公司的首席執行官巴菲特正式承諾,如果霍魯布能夠完成交易,他將向西方石油公司提供100億美元資金。當然其中也有個復雜因素:阿納達科已經承諾出售給石油巨頭雪佛龍,如果違約要賠償10億美元。接下來發生的事對美國本土的產油區來說堪稱巨變,這里指的是從得克薩斯州到新墨西哥州面積達8.6萬平方英里,著名的二疊紀盆地油田。而且是瞬息萬變。

就在巴菲特和霍魯布會面一周半之后,每天在頭條新聞中你來我往的競標戰也宣告結束。雪佛龍(今年《財富》美國500強排名第11位)離場,西方石油公司(《財富》美國500強第167位)宣布將以570億美元的總價收購阿納達科石油公司(《財富》美國500強第237位),包括債務。這是20多年來美國石油和天然氣領域最大的合并案(上一次是??松展好梨冢?,合并后的新公司將躋身《財富》美國100強。

之后在一次討論投資的采訪中,巴菲特告訴CNBC,“從長遠來看,這筆交易是押注未來的石油價格?!鋇⒁?,他沒有提是不是押注石油價格走高(他拒絕為本文向《財富》雜志發表評論)?!耙彩嵌畝團璧賾吞鍶繚て諞謊骱??!?巴菲特在電視節目中補充說。

沒錯,二疊紀油田是目前美國已知原油儲量最大的地區之一。其發現令美國躋身石油生產大國。此處頁巖沉積層很厚,可以通過水力壓裂和泵送法開采石油,不僅吸引了雪佛龍、西方石油公司和阿納達科,也吸引了其他數百家石油公司,占下得克薩斯州西部(以及新墨西哥州一角)大片土地。廣泛采用“水力壓裂”技術后,2018年美國原油日產量達到創紀錄的1100萬桶,也是冷戰結束以來首次超過沙特阿拉伯和俄羅斯。從最新的月度數據來看,僅二疊紀油田每天的原油產量就超過了阿聯酋、加拿大或伊朗。一些人預計,明年還可能超過伊拉克。如果西南地區變成獨立國家,將成世界第四大石油生產國?!岸陀吞鐫諞逞伊煊蚓允薔尬薨約侗??!盜ntegrity Viking Funds公司的首席信息官邁克·莫雷表示,他掌管的能源股基金業績頂尖。

On the last Friday in April, Warren Buffett got a call from Brian Moynihan, the CEO of Bank of America, asking if he would back Occidental Petroleum’s underdog bid for rival oil driller Anadarko. Two days later, Occidental CEO Vicki Hollub was making the pitch herself, having flown to Omaha to appeal directly to the world’s most famous investor. It took Buffett only an hour to say yes.

That Sunday, the Berkshire Hathaway CEO promised $10 billion in financing to Occidental if Hollub could get the deal done. There was, of course, one complicating factor: Anadarko had already pledged to sell itself to oil giant Chevron and would owe the latter $1 billion if it broke their engagement. What followed was a remarkable coup d’état in America’s own oil-soaked Emirate—the famous Permian Basin that stretches 86,000 square miles from Texas to New Mexico—and it all happened in hyperspeed.

Just a week and a half after Buffett and Hollub’s meeting, a bidding war that had played out in daily headlines was over: Chevron (No. 11 on this year’s Fortune 500) walked, and Occidental (No. 167) announced it would buy Anadarko (No. 237) for a total price tag of $57 billion including debt. It’s the largest U.S. oil and gas merger in more than 20 years (since Exxon bought Mobil) and would catapult the combined company into the Fortune 100 elite.

Buffett, in an interview discussing his investment, told CNBC, “It’s a bet on oil prices over the long term more than anything else.” Yet notably, what he didn’t say was whether he was betting on oil prices to be higher. (He declined to comment to Fortune for this story.) “It’s also a bet on the fact that the Permian Basin is what it’s cracked up to be,” Buffett added during the TV segment, without elaborating.

Of course, what the Permian is—quite literally—cracked up to be is one of the biggest oil reserves America has ever known. And it has made the U.S. the top oil-producing country in the world. Its thick shale deposits, hydraulically fractured and pumped for oil, have attracted not only Chevron, Occidental, and Anadarko, but also hundreds of other drillers, which have claimed a big chunk of West Texas (as well as a corner of New Mexico). The “fracking” boom, as it’s known, is responsible for pushing U.S. crude production to a record of roughly 11 million barrels a day in 2018, surpassing Saudi Arabia and Russia for the first time since the end of the Cold War. As of the latest monthly data, the Permian alone produces more crude per day than the United Arab Emirates, Canada, or Iran; by next year, some expect it could also outpace Iraq, which would make the southwestern region the fourth-largest oil producer in the world, if it were its own country. “The Permian is the absolute 800-pound gorilla for shale,” says Mike Morey, CIO of Integrity Viking Funds, who runs a top-performing energy stock fund.

堪比獨立經濟體:僅二疊紀油田,每天原油產量就超過了伊朗或阿聯酋。圖片來源:Photographed by Benjamin Lowy for Fortune

不僅在美國,在全球范圍內二疊紀油田也是開發成本最低的地區之一。跟成本高企的深水和海上鉆井不一樣,原油價格只要保持在每桶50美元,這里的石油公司就能賺錢。正因如此,對于2014年以來苦苦掙扎的能源公司來說,該地區無異于沙漠中的綠洲。2014年,西得克薩斯州原油價格從107美元的峰值暴跌,此后幾年里,石油價格再未接近三位數,還曾經跌至每桶26美元的低位。

今年以來,油價總體上漲,2019年上漲了約35%,至每桶62美元左右。不過,市場上很少有多頭認為石油還能夠繼續上漲?!叭綣揮姓嬲中牡卦嫡問錄?,這里說的不是影響市場的周期性波動,那么極少有人相信大宗商品價格有上漲空間?!崩乘勾笱П純斯艙哐芯克茉囪芯恐行牡淖噬钅茉淳醚Ъ頤仔っ咨堋じK貢硎?。

事實上,盡管5月對伊朗重啟制裁導致生產中斷,利比亞和委內瑞拉等歐佩克出口國發生動蕩,但二疊紀油田產量太高,可以迅速彌補庫存。摩根士丹利的股票分析師德文·麥克德莫特表示,從2009年大衰退結束到2014年,石油行業模式已經發生轉變?!拔頤前諭蚜聳甑淖試炊倘?,重點轉移到石油供應高峰。之前總在想‘石油什么時候會耗???’后來變成石油太多用不完?!備匾氖?,二疊紀油田至少能夠確保接下來的20年里供應充足。

如今,經歷了數輪顛簸的原油周期后,各個公司都在考慮,會不會價格平穩就是最好的情況?!耙到繅饈兜?,不能再指望價格走高?!弊懿課揮諦菟茍俚哪茉賜蹲室蠺udor, Pickering, Holt & Co.的總裁丹·皮克林表示。他預計,在可預見的未來,油價將在每桶50至75美元之間波動。他說,畢竟還有一些政治力量存在。一方面,如果價格跌至低點無利可圖,石油卡特爾組織歐佩克將削減產量;另一方面,特朗普將堅決讓天然氣保持低價,以推動美國經濟發展?!拔胰銜?,原油價格范圍已然確定,掉到50美元歐佩克會減產,漲到70美元特朗普就發推文?!?皮克林補充說。特朗普上任以來,關于石油和天然氣價格的推文越來越多,2019年以來發了8條,僅4月就提了3次,內容大多是呼吁歐佩克增加供應。

價格不太可能出現井噴,石油公司也只好努力適應。過去大概6個月里,美國能源公司削減資本支出,減少鉆井平臺數量,提高了盈利能力,現金流狀況也有所改善?!跋衷誥S兄幀?0美元當100美元’的感覺?!鼻悄繕ね呋舳魎?,他曾經在殼牌擔任鉆井工程師,如今在吉尼斯阿特金森資產管理公司當投資組合經理。

諷刺的是,油田之前過好日子時并不像表面一樣風光。瓦霍恩說,前些年石油價格每桶100美元時,公司盈利水平也不怎么樣。摩根士丹利表示,從過去油價高企時到去年,美國石油天然氣勘探生產公司在資本支出和股息方面的支出總是超過現金流。而且頁巖油革命開始以來,標準普爾500指數(S&P 500)能源股指數表現一直不佳?!叭綣頤竊諉攔茉闖灤牽ㄒ逞遙┑示凸鄄燜?,人們都會猜測能源股會走勢很好,但事實并非如此?!蓖緞蠵iper Jaffray石油天然氣部門西蒙斯能源的董事總經理兼高級研究分析師比爾·赫伯特表示。

多年來,能源行業令眾多投資者折戟,許多人已經放棄。但西方石油公司這筆交易可能重新燃起人們的興趣。觀察巴菲特投入的100億美元能如何起作用會很有趣。

The Permian is also one of the cheapest places to drill for oil, not only in the U.S., but in the world. Unlike costly deepwater and offshore rigs, drillers can make money on Permian oil as long as it trades for at least $50 a barrel. That’s made the region an oasis for energy companies that have struggled ever since 2014, when West Texas crude prices collapsed from a peak of $107. In the years since, prices have never come close to reaching triple digits and have dipped as low as $26 a barrel.

So far this year, prices have generally been on the upswing, and are up some 35% in 2019—to around $62 per barrel—despite concerns that a continuing trade war with China will slow demand. Still, it’s hard to find a bull who thinks that oil has reason to rise much more. “Short of a real sustained geopolitical event—not the periodic flashes that have been impacting the markets—I don’t know that anybody thinks that there’s an upside for commodity prices themselves,” says longtime energy economist Michelle Michot Foss, a fellow at the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Indeed, even with production disruptions resulting from the reactivation of Iran sanctions in May—as well as turmoil in other OPEC exporters like Libya and Venezuela—the Permian has created such an abundance of supply that it can quickly make up for lost inventory. In the years between 2009, when the Great Recession ended, and 2014, there’s been a paradigm shift in the industry, says Devin McDermott, an equity analyst at Morgan Stanley: “We’ve gone from a decade of resource scarcity, and the focus on peak oil supply—‘when do we run out of oil?’—to more oil than we need.” What’s more, there’s enough still in the Permian ground to last at least the next 20 years.

Now, after generations of seesawing crude cycles, companies are wondering whether the best they can hope for, in terms of prices, is flat. “The industry is realizing they can’t count on higher prices,” says Dan Pickering, president of Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co., an energy investment bank headquartered in Houston. He expects oil to trade between $50 and $75 a barrel for the foreseeable future. After all, he says, there are also political forces at play—with, on the one hand, the OPEC oil cartel ready to slash output if prices fall to unprofitable lows, and on the other, President Trump determined to ensure gas stays cheap to fuel the U.S. economy. “My view is, we’ve determined the price range for crude: OPEC is cutting production at $50, and Trump is tweeting at $70,” adds Pickering. Since taking office, Trump has tweeted increasingly often about oil and gas prices—eight times so far in 2019, and three in April alone—generally calling on OPEC to pump more supply to market.

The price may not exactly be a gusher, but the drillers are figuring out how to live with it. In the past six months or so, U.S. energy companies have trimmed capital spending, and cut down on the number of rigs, boosting their profitability and allowing them to retain more of their cash flow. “We kind of use the phrase ‘$60 is the new $100,’?” says Jonathan Waghorn, a onetime Shell drilling engineer who is now a portfolio manager for Guinness Atkinson.

The irony is, the good ole days for the oil patch weren’t exactly that. Even when oil was $100 a barrel a few years ago, companies weren’t as profitable as they should have been, says Waghorn. In those heady days, and until last year, U.S. oil and gas exploration and production companies paid out more on capital expenditures and dividends than they had in cash flow, according to Morgan Stanley—and S&P 500 energy stocks have been consistent underperformers since the start of the shale oil revolution. “If we were looking into your crystal ball at this supernova birth [of shale] in the U.S., I think you would have surmised that these stocks would have done exceedingly well, but they haven’t,” says Bill Herbert, managing director and senior research analyst at Simmons Energy, the oil and gas investment banking arm of Piper Jaffray.

For years, the sector burned so many investors that many abandoned it. But the Occidental deal may have reignited interest. It’s funny what $10 billion from Warren Buffett will do.

****

回過頭來看看西方石油公司為何賭上全部身家,用盡所有籌碼也要收購阿納達科,以及為何大規模踏足二疊紀油田。過去幾個月里,西方石油超過了規模大得多的雪佛龍,成為二疊紀油田最大的石油公司,但優勢很難保持。因為雪佛龍對二疊紀油田的雄心也不斷增加,最近承諾到2020年增加53%的產量。

這是雪佛龍也想收購阿納達科的原因。一旦兩家石油公司聯姻,會形成一些獨特的優勢。兩家公司在二疊紀油田控制的地盤沿著舊的得州太平洋鐵路線延伸,意味著合并之后會像巨大的棋盤一樣連起來,進一步降低成本。競爭對手西方石油將被淘汰出局。

西方石油自己可能也已經發現,想要繼續保持該地區領先地位不太可能。所以西方石油一直垂涎阿納達科,而且兩家就潛在交易已經談判近兩年。當4月中旬雪佛龍宣布同意以500億美元收購阿納達科連同債務時,西方石油立刻發現身處困境,想要收購阿納達科,就得以某種方式拆散雪佛龍的交易,還要處理10億美元賠償的問題。

在二疊紀油田,往“干油井”投錢幾乎沒有風險,因為大家都知道“堅硬巖石”里有石油,也就是廣為人知的頁巖層??拷鞲繽搴0兜牡乩砦恢靡材芄蝗繁=頭獎愕卦酥潦諧?,尤其現在新管道已經開通?!按雍芏嚳矯胬純?,這對石油公司來說非常理想?!備K顧??!笆凸敬佑吞锏絞諧〈釔鵒送暾壑盜?,在美國沿海有出口權。近30年到40年里都沒有過這么好的條件?!?/p>

吞下阿納達科之后,西方石油在黃金地帶的地位將進一步鞏固?;八淙绱?,代價也十分巨大,收購價比雪佛龍的出價每股多了11美元。巴菲特援助100億美元換得了西方石油10萬股優先股,年息8%。并非所有人都認為價格合理。西方石油宣布收購阿納達科之后的三周里,股價暴跌了13%,股東紛紛批評收購成本高,而且讓巴菲特占了大便宜。持有西方石油2.8%股份的普信集團在5月的股東大會上威脅要罷免公司董事會(未成功),還抱怨稱管理層應該讓股東就收購投票表決。

“我們認為二疊紀油田是西方石油的核心資產?!?普信集團的首席投資官約翰·林漢說。他補充稱,西方石油在二疊紀油田的資產是他當初投資的“核心原因”。奇怪的是,阿納達科的交易反而沖淡了該優勢。他表示,盡管合并后的新公司在二疊紀油田占的地盤更大,但生產不再那么集中,因為阿納達科在其他地區的產量占比更高?!罷獠皇潛人婺W畬??!繃趾核??!氨鵲氖撬芑乇ǜ??!?

“我們了解二疊紀油田。這是我們公司的基礎?!蔽鞣絞凸鏡氖紫蔥泄儻Аせ袈巢莢凇恫聘弧吩又舊戲⒈砩魎??!暗婊笮《暈頤搶此擋⒉恢匾?。最重要的不是規模達到最大,而是實力最強。我認為這點已經證明?!憊賾諶乒啥鍍被方?,霍魯布在最近的財報電話會議中表示,此舉是為了“增加實現的可能性”,因為雪佛龍的收購協議不需要投票?!罷獬”熱⒉還??!彼?。

Which brings us back to Occidental’s all-in, table-clearing bid for Anadarko, and the hunt for scale in the Permian. In the past few months, Occidental nudged past the much-larger Chevron to become the top Permian oil producer, but it was going to be hard to stay there: Chevron was rapidly upping its Permian ambitions, and had recently promised to grow its production there 53% by 2020.

That’s why Chevron wanted Anadarko, too. The notion of marriage between the two oil producers promised some unique advantages: The parcels each company controls in the Permian run along the old Texas & Pacific rail line, meaning a merger would have united the land like a massive checkerboard, lowering costs further. Rival Occidental would be boxed out.

On its own, Occidental would likely find it nearly impossible to hang on as the region’s top producer. That’s why it, too, had been coveting Anadarko—and indeed had been in talks with the company over a potential deal for almost two years. When Chevron announced its agreement to purchase Anadarko in mid-April for $50 billion including debt, Occidental found itself between tight rock and a hard place: If it wanted Anadarko, it would have to somehow break up the Chevron deal and cover its billion-dollar dowry.

In the Permian Basin, there’s virtually no risk of wasting money on “dry” wells because everyone knows that oil is in that “tight rock,” as the shale formations are known. The proximity to the Gulf Coast also makes it convenient for companies to get the crude to market—especially now with new pipelines opening up. “This is really just an ideal situation for companies in a great number of respects,” Foss says. “They’ve got a complete value chain from field to market, and with coastal access for exports right in the United States. They haven’t had that for 30 to 40 years.”

By gobbling up Anadarko, Occidental would get to solidify its position in this golden region even more. That said, it’s paying a mighty big premium—$11 more per share than what Chevron offered. And in exchange for his $10 billion, Buffett has received 100,000 preferred shares in Occidental , with an 8% annual dividend. Not everyone thinks the price is justified. Occidental’s stock plummeted 13% in the three weeks after it went public with the Ana?darko bid, with its own shareholders criticizing the high cost of the purchase and the fact that Buffett got the sweeter end of the deal. T. Rowe Price, which holds 2.8% of Occidental shares, had (unsuccessfully) threatened to oust the company’s board of directors at its May shareholder meeting, complaining that management should have let shareholders vote on the merger.

“We view the Permian as Occidental’s crown jewel,” says John Linehan, chief investment officer of equity at T. Rowe Price, adding that Occidental’s assets here were the “core reason” he invested in the company in the first place. But the Anadarko deal, oddly enough, dilutes that rationale. While the combined company will have more acreage in the Permian Basin, he says, its overall production will be less concentrated there, because Anadarko has a larger share of its output outside the region. “This isn’t the race to be the biggest,” says Linehan. “It’s the race to have the best total returns.”

“We know the Permian. It’s the foundation of our company,” says Occidental CEO Vicki Hollub in a statement to Fortune. “But it’s not size that matters to us. What really matters to us is not to be the biggest but to be the best. And I think we’ve proven that.” With regard to bypassing a shareholder vote on the deal, Hollub said on a recent earnings call that the company did so to ensure that it “had a reasonable chance to make this happen,” as the Chevron agreement did not require a vote. “We weren’t playing on a level playing field,” she said.

面積堪比得克薩斯州的油田:在得克薩斯州米德蘭,二疊紀油田中心,幾乎人人都是石油工人,許多美國石油公司都在加倍投入。圖片來源:Photographed by Benjamin Lowy for Fortune

另一方面,即便雪佛龍收購阿納達科失敗也影響不大?!昂@锏撓慊褂瀉芏??!蓖蹲首楹暇磽呋舳鞅硎??!鞍⒛紗錕潑揮惺裁刺乇鷸??!筆率瞪?,隨著大石油集團在收購意愿方面有所顯露,二疊紀油田有不少石油公司都可成為潛在的收購目標。分析師們正關注先鋒自然資源、諾貝爾能源、阿帕奇公司、康休資源、歐芹能源和響尾蛇能源等收購候選目標?!壩鋅贍苤灰儷魷忠槐適展?,就會開啟大規模整合浪潮?!逼た肆直硎??!叭綣?松?、殼牌、英國石油公司或道達爾再做筆大交易,市場上就會有不少公司匆忙尋找目標,還會有很多人擔心錯過機會?!?

新興的水力壓裂行業也出現并購浪潮的跡象,讓投資銀行家皮克林想起了20世紀90年代末的互聯網繁榮。當時,投資者拼命追逐高增長,就算公司沒有利潤也敢投資,最后市場崩盤,互聯網創業公司只能整合?!跋衷詰撓吞鏌慘謊??!?皮克林說。

總的來說,隨著各個公司收縮鉆探業務,美國石油產量增長總體上將放緩。關鍵技巧在于,即便到最后石油價格恢復上漲,也不要太積極提高產量,以免價格再次暴跌?!跋M庖淮我到縋芪〗萄??!盜ntegrity Viking基金的邁克·莫雷說。

畢竟,二疊紀油田的石油公司自身也可能有動力控制供應和價格。因為比起美國以外的石油公司,本土石油公司靠價格更低的石油賺錢更容易。油價低的時候,面臨的競爭也更小。Cushing Asset Management公司的投資組合經理兼聯席首席信息官約翰·穆斯格雷夫表示,如果油價漲至每桶80美元,國外很多競爭對手也會開動鉆井?!按永礪凵轄?,幾乎不會希望原油價格飛漲?!?

至于巴菲特,他手上持有優先股,所以不管油價如何他都能賺錢。這可能才是多年來油田里最賺錢的一招。(財富中文網)

本文另一版本登載于《財富》雜志2019年6月刊,標題為《得克薩斯州女王持有的籌碼》。

譯者:Feb

Chevron, on the other hand, is no worse for wear without Anadarko. “There are plenty more fish in the sea,” says portfolio manager Waghorn. “There’s no particular reason that Anadarko should stand out.” In fact, now that the major oil conglomerate has tipped its hand in terms of its acquisition appetite, a slew of Permian producers look like potential targets. Analysts are eyeing Pioneer Natural Resources, Noble Energy, Apache Corp., Concho Resources, Parsley Energy, and Diamondback Energy, among others, as takeout candidates. “I think we’re probably one deal away from a big consolidation wave,” says Pickering. “If we see Exxon, Shell, BP, or Total do another big transaction, I think there will be a huge rush to find your dance partner, and there will be a significant amount of fear of missing out.”

The signs of an imminent M&A wave in the still-nascent fracking industry remind Pickering, the investment banker, of the dotcom boom of the late ’90s. Back then, investors chased high growth, throwing money at com?panies despite their lack of profits—before the market crash ultimately forced a consolidation of Internet ?startups. “That’s happening in the oil patch now,” Pickering says.

Inevitably, U.S. oil production growth, on the whole, will slow, as companies pull back on drilling. The trick for them, if oil prices do ultimately rise, will be not ramping production back up too aggressively, such that prices collapse again. “Hopefully this time the industry learns its lesson,” says Integrity Viking’s Mike Morey.

After all, Permian producers themselves may have an incentive to keep supply—and prices—in check. Because they can make money on cheaper oil than many drillers outside the U.S. can, they face less competition when prices are low. If the price of oil were to rise to $80 a barrel, more foreign competitors would start pumping too, says John Musgrave, ?portfolio manager and co-CIO of Cushing Asset Management. “Theoretically, you almost wouldn’t want crude oil prices to skyrocket higher.”

As for Buffett, he’s going to make money no matter where oil prices go, thanks to his preferred shares. That may be the most profitable move in the oil patch in years.

This article appears in the June 2019 issue of Fortune with the headline “The Queen of Texas Hold ‘Em.”

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