Davos WEF

We may not see $100 oil 'for a long time,' says Chevron CEO

Key Points
  • Chevron CEO Michael Wirth told CNBC on Thursday that oil prices may not reach $100 for a "long time" thanks to the boom in U.S. shale production.
  • "Oil markets have really changed over the last decade or so," Wirth said on "Squawk Box" from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "We've moved from a period of time where there was a belief we were approaching peak oil, and now we're in an era of abundance."
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Watch CNBC's full interview with Chevron CEO Michael Wirth

Chevron CEO Michael Wirth told CNBC on Thursday that oil prices may not reach $100 for a "long time" thanks to the boom in U.S. shale production.

"Oil markets have really changed over the last decade or so," Wirth said on "Squawk Box" from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "We've moved from a period of time where there was a belief we were approaching peak oil, and now we're in an era of abundance."

He said that he doesn't believe the world will ever run out of oil, which means that prices are now less prone to bouts of volatility. This was on display following the September attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais, which took an estimated 5.7 million barrels of oil offline. Oil prices initially spiked 15% before returning to their pre-attack levels within weeks.

Wirth said that "efficiency" is the "age old story" of the oil industry, and that companies cannot rely on high oil prices for profits.

"You have to run your company -- it's a commodity business -- with capital discipline, with cost discipline, and a real focus on maintaining that through the cycle," he said.

One of the central themes at this year's World Economic Forum was sustainable investing, including how society can transition to cleaner sources of fuel. The conference follows a number of climate-related initiatives announced by companies over the last week, including Microsoft saying it will be carbon negative by 2030, and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink saying the climate crisis is about to trigger a "fundamental reshaping of finance."

Amid this backdrop, Wirth said he's disappointed in the pessimism surrounding his industry, and that Chevron, too, is trying to become more efficient.

"The energy system is enormous and it's growing, and we need everything. It's always been in transition from the beginning, and it's always moved to a more reliable, affordable and cleaner state, and that will never end," he said.

Shares of Chevron have shed 10% over the last six months, underperforming the S&P energy sector's 9% drop. The S&P 500 has gained 10% over the same period.

The company reports fourth quarter earnings on Jan. 31 before the market opens. Analysts polled by FactSet are expecting earnings per share of $1.43 on $38.44 billion in revenue. This represents a year-over-year decline of 27% and 9%, respectively.