The price of oil topped $50 a barrel this week for the first time since July, delivering a cash infusion to oil producers and a lift to beaten-down energy stocks
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Mr Dudley was reflecting what executives at the largest energy companies have been saying for the past year or so: that this downturn, the worst in 30 years, has vindicated the business model of the "vertically integrated" oil groups.There are two principal benefits from being an integrated company.In the past two years, Hess shares have dropped by 34 per cent, Conoco's by 41 per cent and Marathon Oil's by 61 per cent.Chevron's total shareholder return has been 12 per cent and Exxon's 18 per cent.BP has restructured its US downstream operations, selling two refineries, to focus on those that are closely linked to its marketing businesses.Tufan Erginbilgic, BP's head of downstream, says: "We are trying to create differentiated business models so we can generate differentiated returns ... Then we are not going to have one good month for the company and another month not good". Some companies are even expanding their downstream operations.
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