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Liam Denning

Exxon Could Use a Refill

It might soon need a major acquisition to boost growth.

Listen to one of Exxon Mobil's carefully calibrated earnings calls, and you'll understand the company isn't into spontaneity. Which is good, because investors in Big Oil generally don't value surprises.

Unfortunately, they've had to endure a few of them recently, the latest being Friday's announcement by Exxon that it didn't replace its reserves in 2015 for the first time in more than two decades. This comes soon after Standard & Poor's threatened to possibly cut Exxon's coveted triple-A credit rating and the company suspended its long-standing buyback program.