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ExxonMobil has yet again taken the top spot in the annual Global Energy Company Ranking by S&P Global Platts. While few were surprised that the assets, revenue, profits, and return on investment capital for the world’s largest public oil and gas producer earned it the 12th consecutive top ranking, the company hot on Exxon’s heels was a surprise: Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO). Look no further that oil and gas market fundamentals to understand how KEPCO moved up the ranks.

The 2016 edition reflects the oil market's biggest price collapse in nearly three decades and the resulting re-drawing of the lines in the fuels mix and the business fate of energy players based on each company's exposure to the price rout that followed OPEC's defense of its market position. Enter, KEPCO. The South Korean utility company is the only electric utility in the prized upper ranks. The company's rise from 41st place in 2015 was boosted by a mix of lower fuel costs and costs of purchasing electricity as well as a market reward for risk-taking in a new capacity building that includes new baseload nuclear and coal-fired power plants.

Oil and gas companies that typically dominate the upper rankings met with varied fates this year. Four Russian companies ranked among the Top 10, more than in other edition. Although still dogged by Western sanctions, Russia's biggest energy companies enjoyed a major balance sheet lift from the sharp slump in the value of the ruble. Gazprom climbed to third overall from 43rd place in 2015, the highest since 2011. In contrast, the drop in global oil prices hit the balance sheets and ranking of many industry giants, such as Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, CNOOC, PetroChina.

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