When crude crashed below $30 a barrel, the debt-riddled oil industry was forced to beg for cash from Wall Street. Many cash-strapped companies survived the downturn by selling shares at a record-setting pace.
The oil industry is returning the favor now that crude has soared back to around $70 a barrel and companies are once again minting money. CEOs are sharing the windfall with shareholders through large share buyback programs and even some dividend hikes.
"Rather than take money off investors, they're giving it back," said Kris Nicol, corporate upstream analyst at consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.
Big Oil's reversal of fortune isn't just about higher prices. It's also a reflection of a vast technological advances that have made it cheaper to drill than ever before.
US oil production has skyrocketed to record highs and exploding shale output from the Permian Basin could soon make Texas the world's No. 3 oil producer.
Not surprisingly, fast-growing shale oil companies have the most firepower when it comes to shareholder rewards.
Hess (HES), Occidental Petroleum (OXY), Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) and Anadarko Petroleum (APC) have all announced plans to buy back billions of dollars in shares.Read on by clicking here.
Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!