Most of the world's biggest producers of natural gas are global energy giants with worldwide oil and gas operations spanning the full range of upstream and downstream activities. Together, these companies accounted for about 30% of worldwide natural gas production in 2016, the most recent year for which figures are available.
Russia's Gazprom (OTC: OGZPY) is the world's top publicly listed natural gas company. As of Dec. 31, 2016, it was responsible for the production of nearly 36 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day, about 11% of the total world output on an annualized basis. Gazprom dominates the Russian natural gas industry, accounting for more than two-thirds of all production in the country.
Gazprom also ranks as Russia's third-largest oil producer and its largest owner and operator of gas turbine power plants, which account for approximately 15% of Russia's total installed power-generation capacity. Gazprom is controlled by the Russian government, which holds slightly more than 50% of outstanding shares in the company. As of Feb. 2018, Gazprom had a market capitalization of about $50 billion.
2. Exxon Mobil
Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM) produced more than 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in 2016, a substantial increase in the company's natural gas operations since 2009, when it produced only about 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to rank ninth in the U.S alone. Since then, Exxon Mobil has made substantial investments in natural gas, including the acquisition of the largest independent natural gas producer in the U.S. at the time, XTO Energy.
As of February 2018, Exxon Mobil had a market capitalization of more than $322 billion, making it one of the world's biggest oil and gas companies and one of the biggest global companies in any industry.
3. China National Petroleum Corporation
China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is China's largest natural gas producer. It reported production of just more than 98 million cubic meters of natural gas per year in China as of Dec. 31, 2016. CNPC also has vast oil and petrochemical production and oil and gas marketing operations.
While CNPC is a state-owned enterprise, much of its operations are organized under a publicly listed subsidiary company, PetroChina Company Limited (NYSE: PTR). PetroChina shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The company had a market capitalization of about $220 billion as of February 2018. CNPC, and through it the Chinese government, maintains a majority stake in the company.
4. Royal Dutch Shell
Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A), also known as Shell Global, reported production of more than 9.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in 2014. The company's natural gas operations are spread across the globe. About 34% of production comes from the East and Southeast Asia regions, about 32% from Europe, and about 17% from North America.
In addition to its natural gas operations, Royal Dutch Shell has vast crude oil exploration and production activities, as well as downstream operations including refineries, petrochemical plants and retail service stations. Royal Dutch Shell is headquartered in the Netherlands and incorporated in the U.K. It had a market capitalization of about $271 billion as of February 2018.
London-headquartered BP (NYSE: BP) is a global energy giant with vast operations spanning the length of the oil and gas supply chain. The company reported natural gas production of about 7.1 billion cubic feet per day in 2014. BP operates major natural gas production sites around the globe, from the Americas to the Middle East to Southeast Asia. It also has substantial worldwide oil exploration and production operations, in addition to petrochemical, lubricant and retail gasoline businesses. As of February 2018, BP has a market capitalization of approximately $124 billion.
Chevron (NYSE: CVX), an American integrated energy giant, reported daily natural gas production of about 5.2 billion cubic feet per day in 2016 – right in line with production in recent years. The company operates major natural gas fields across the globe, including sites in Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America.
Chevron also maintains vast upstream oil operations and downstream activities in petrochemicals, lubricants, additives and gasoline. Chevron had a market capitalization of about $213 billion as of February 2018.
Total SA (NYSE: TOT), a French oil and gas company, produced approximately 2.3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, as of 2016. Total is an integrated oil and gas company with worldwide upstream and downstream operations. The company produces about 19% of its natural gas from fields in the Asia-Pacific region. Its operations in Europe, the Middle East and Russia each account for close to 18% of its total production. Total has a market capitalization of approximately $138 billion, as of February 2018.
Norway's Statoil ASA (NYSE: STO) comes in behind Eni with just under 4.2 billion cubic feet of daily natural gas production. Nearly 81% of the company's production in 2014 is attributed to domestic operations in Norway's offshore gas fields.
Statoil also produces gas and oil in 11 foreign countries and has ongoing exploration activities in numerous locations around the globe. The government of Norway maintains a controlling interest in Statoil, holding 67% of the company's outstanding shares. As of February 2018, Statoil had a market capitalization of more than $73 billion.
ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), an American oil and gas producer, reported just over 3.9 billion cubic feet of natural gas production per day in 2014, continuing a trend of flat production in recent years. In addition to its domestic activities, ConocoPhillips has oil and gas production operations in 11 other countries.
In contrast to the other companies on this list, ConocoPhillips operates only as an upstream oil and gas exploration and production company. Its downstream operations were spun off to form an independent company, Phillips 66, in 2012. ConocoPhillips has a market capitalization of about $63 billion.
Eni SpA (NYSE: E) is an Italian oil and gas conglomerate with its headquarters in Rome. In 2014, it reported natural gas production of just more than 4.2 billion cubic feet per day – roughly in line with results in recent years. About 41% of Eni's production comes from the company's North African operations. It also has substantial natural gas operations in Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas. As of February 2018, Eni had a market capitalization of nearly $58 billion.