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Integrated Big Oil model proves its worth

Wall Street challenged the model, but Big Oil has proven the methods might just help withstand the downturn

A few years ago, Wall Street had a message for Big Oil: bigger isn't necessarily better. The supermajors' sprawling businesses that incorporated exploration, production, refining, transport and trading operations around the world, the bankers argued, were too large and complex for investors to understand. The oil companies were urged to break up the businesses to "unlock value."  Struggling refining operations that had become bloated and failed to keep up with the shift in global demand to Asia would be hived off into new businesses. That would give investors direct access to the supermajors' exploration and production businesses, which were throwing off cash with crude prices at more than

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