Big Oil was slow to jump into the fracking business, which has transformed U.S. energy markets by extracting oil and gas from shale deposits. And its latest quarterly reports show how it's struggling to get on board.
"The big oil companies were late to invest in shale. They're trying to play catch-up," says Brian Youngberg, an analyst at Edward Jones, noting smaller and more nimble companies got into fracking more quickly. He says the multinationals are now investing in new shale developments, but since they're so big, it's difficult for any single project to shift their overall bottom line.
The nation's energy boom is largely due to the combined use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which has made it cheaper to break apart shale rock and extract oil or gas trapped deep underground. Since 2005, U.S. production has risen 35% for natural gas and 44% for crude oil, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.