The world’s largest publicly traded energy company can’t find enough oil.

According to The Wall Street Journal, for every 100 barrels of oil that Exxon Mobil has pumped out of the earth in the last decade, it has only replaced 95. This index, known as the reserve replacement rate, is one that analysts scrutinize closely.

Exxon Mobil is not alone, however. The decline in this rate plagues most Western oil-producing companies. Beginning decades ago, accessible oil fields started to tap out, and the new ones that are in the process of being developed have enormous technological challenges such as deep-water exploration. Quite often, tricky local politics also hampers reserve replacement.

“The good old days are gone and not to be repeated,” Fadel Gheit of Oppenheimer and Co. told the Journal.

By contrast, however, Exxon Mobil was able to substantially increase its natural gas holdings. For every 100 cubic feet of natural gas the company extracted, it was able to acquire an additional 158 cubic fee.

“The shift toward gas – and troubles with finding oil – has emerged as a theme for the giant Western oil companies. Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s chief executive said last month the European company will produce more gas than oil next year for the first time in its 104-year history.”
– The Wall Street Journal

Read the entire story HERE (subscription required).