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ExxonMobil Commences Production at Julia Oil Field in GoM

Integrated oil major Exxon Mobil Corporation XOM announced that production of oil has started at the Julia oil field in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM). Also, the company was able to initiate production both under budget and ahead of schedule. With the first well online, the company expects the second well to go onstream in the next couple of weeks. The Maersk Viking drillship is currently drilling a third well that is expected to come online in early 2017.

The Julia field was discovered in 2007. It has five leases in the ultra-deepwater Walker Ridge area of the GoM, which is 265 miles southwest of New Orleans. The resource is located 30,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. The ownership of the Julia unit is equally shared between the operator, ExxonMobil and Statoil ASA STO. The oil field includes six wells with subsea tie-backs to Chevron Corporation’s CVX production facility Jack & St. Malo.

ExxonMobil is the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, engaged in oil and natural gas exploration and production, petroleum products refining and marketing, chemicals manufacture, and other energy-related businesses. Approximately four-fifth of ExxonMobil’s earnings come from its operations outside the U.S.

Notably, ExxonMobil is one of the world’s best-run integrated oil companies given its track record of superior returns on capital employed. The energy giant has long been a core holding for investors seeking a defensive name with continued dividend growth. The company is also fairly active in its investment programs.

The strength of ExxonMobil primarily lies in its balanced operations, strong financial flexibility and steady improvement in efficiency and cost control. The company’s efforts to build an unconventional resource portfolio both in North America and overseas are aimed at increasing production through a wider exposure to large energy resources with a long reserve life and low field declines. However, we are skeptical about the company’s near-term performance owing to its muddled refining fortunes.

ExxonMobil currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Investors interested in the energy sector can consider a better-ranked stock like ReneSola Ltd. SOL. The stock sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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