It has been a tough year for the oil and gas industry, with prices around half the levels seen in early 2014. What have been the high and low points for you?
There were several highpoints. An important milestone for our Upstream business was deciding to go ahead with the Appomattox deep-water project in the Gulf of Mexico. It makes strong business sense, even in a low oil price environment, because we have worked hard to make it very cost-competitive.
We also started production from the third phase of our Bonga deep-water project off the coast of Nigeria, adding valuable production to this major facility.
Our Downstream business did well. Lower oil prices boosted refining earnings, underscoring the benefit of being an integrated energy company. Our drive to increase efficiency and reduce costs helped performance in Downstream as well.
We also took final investment decisions to build a major unit at our Pernis refinery in the Netherlands and expand our Geismar chemical plant in the USA.
But if I had to pick out one highpoint it would be the recommended combination with BG. The BG deal is on-track for completion in early 2016. The recommended combination is expected to enhance our cash flow, create a leader in liquefied natural gas (LNG) and deep water among international oil companies, and help make us more focused and profitable.
The lows were that we suffered several fatalities during the year. There was also a fire at one of our facilities in Singapore that left several people seriously injured. Incidents such as these are the low points of any year, and show that we must stay vigilant. Nothing is more important than safety.