Just nine days after saying it would “lean in… taking advantage of the low-cost environment” (MEES, 13 March), ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods on 16 March said that in response to an “unprecedented environment” his firm is “evaluating all appropriate steps to significantly reduce capital and operating expenses in the near term.” “We will outline plans when they are finalized,” Mr Woods says.

This stunning reversal came just a day after ratings agency S&P downgraded Exxon from AA+ to AA whilst placing the supermajor on notice for a further downgrade. The firm’s “cash flow/leverage measures fell well below our expectations for the rating in 2019,” S&P said on 16 March, adding that the current weak market means “we expect measures to remain weak without a significant change in the company’s financial plans.” (CONTINUED - 1258 WORDS)