Companies involved in the energy field harness and extract energy to fuel our daily lives. Oil and gas companies are famously known, but there are many other players in the energy field. And, as energy technology changes, new companies on the cutting edge continue to emerge.
Have you ever looked at the sun in awe, wondering how important this ball of gas is to life on Earth? Most of the energy we consume today originates in that fiery orb. Even the energy locked in fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, and oil comes ultimately from the sun. The long-dead plants that have become these fuels got the energy they needed to live directly from the sun through photosynthesis. And the animals that are now such fuels also got their energy from the sun by eating plants or other animals that had done so. Today’s dreams of cheap, clean energy also center on the sun as energy innovators seek to reproduce the sun’s own power-creation process through nuclear fusion.
But companies focused on long-reliable fossil fuels and on not-yet-practical nuclear fusion are only two parts of a field with many more participants. Continue reading to learn more about the energy field and several important companies active in it.
Companies involved in the energy field
There are all sorts of companies involved in the energy field, handling different elements of the sector. To make things simple for this article, we will divide them into three categories: fossil fuels, non-fossil fuels, and nuclear.
Energy-field companies profiled in this article include:
- Fossil fuels
- Shell (formerly Royal Dutch Shell)
- BHP Billiton (BHP Group)
- Coterra Energy
- Non-fossil fuels
- Trina Solar
- Vestas (Vestas Wind Systems A/S)
- Exelon Corporation
- General Fusion
- Commonwealth Fusion Systems
Fossil fuels are the most consumed energy resource on the planet today. Energy derived from fossil fuels has contributed profoundly to modern society. Let’s break down how this energy works.
Note that this breakdown uses one set of expert estimates and assumptions, and not every expert uses precisely the same numbers. For instance, some experts estimate the energy content of a barrel of oil at 5.8 million British thermal units (rather than the 5.7 million figure used here) and provide a different value for work capacity of human labor. Any set of expert estimates will give you an idea of just how great the contribution of fossil fuels is to human productive capacity, but you shouldn’t view these numbers as more than rough approximations.
How using fossil fuels magnifies human productivity
Here’s the breakdown. The numbers, we think you’ll agree, are staggering.
- One barrel of oil contains 5.7 million British thermal units of energy.
- Translated into kilowatt-hours, that’s roughly enough energy to produce 1,700 kilowatt-hours worth of work.
- A human being doing physical labor over an 8 hour day can only generate around 0.6 kilowatt-hours of work on average.
- Even working 7 days a week, this would allow one human laborer to do just 219 kilowatt-hours of work per year.
- A barrel of oil, then, produces as many kilowatt-hours of work as a human being laboring for 7.8 years.
- On a global level, human beings use a combination of oil and natural gas equivalent to around 100 billion barrels of oil annually.
- At 7.8 years per barrel, that’s like adding 780 billion extra years of labor to our species’ productive capacity on an annual basis.
Companies that are involved in fossil fuels in the energy field are going to be involved in the extraction, production, and distribution of coal, oil, and gas. Here are some of our favorites.
Headquarters: Irvine, Texas.
ExxonMobil is actually a spinoff of another company you might have heard of. John Rockefeller’s Standard Oil was forced to break up for violating the nation’s first antitrust law near the turn of the last century. One of the pieces that broke off became today’s ExxonMobil. ExxonMobil, in its current form, was established in 1999 by the merger of Mobil and Exxon. Funnily enough, both Mobil and Exxon used to be part of the Standard Oil Company.
The company was ranked sixth in the Fortune 500 index as of 2022. They produce oil and gas all over the world and convert their petroleum to a range of products like diesel, plastic, and gasoline. ExxonMobil affords opportunities to both investors (NYSE ticker: XOM) and job seekers. Jobs with ExxonMobil range from doing business administration in the corporate offices to working at one of their many oil and gas fields and oil or gas reserves. (NYSE stands for New York Stock Exchange.)
Headquarters: San Ramon, California.
Unlike the previously mentioned Standard Oil, Chevron is a company that dates back to that time but was never broken up (though it’s had some name changes). Like ExxonMobil, Chevron produces both oil and gas and uses petroleum to create a myriad of different end products. They are one of the leaders of natural gas fracking operations in the United States. Investors can find them on the NYSE under ticker symbol CVX. Chevron also offers different opportunities for job seekers who can crunch numbers or build pipelines.
Shell (Royal Dutch Shell)
Headquarters: London, UK.
Shell, which changed its name to Shell from Royal Dutch Shell in January 2022, is the largest non-American, non-state-held oil and gas company in the world. They are the result of the 1907 merger between the British company Trading Company Limited and the Dutch company Royal Shell. Unlike ExxonMobil and Chevron, which have huge operations extracting oil and gas from the United States, Shell has its fields almost entirely outside of its country of origin. Again, with a behemoth like Shell, there are plenty of opportunities to go around, for both investors (NYSE ticker for ADR: SHEL). (ADR stands for American depository receipts. These represent foreign stocks on a U.S. exchange.)
BHP Billiton (BHP Group)
Headquarters: Melbourne, Australia.
BHP Billiton, or the BHP Group, is one of the largest mining companies in the world. Although they mine all sorts of things, it’s their mining of coal that puts them squarely in the energy field. In fact, they are the number two coal mining company in the world outside of the Chinese state. Australia is a fantastic place to live and work if you want to apply to work at the BHP headquarters. If not, there are many far-flung coal mines and mineral deposits that need a helping hand throughout the planet. They sold out their petroleum interest in Arkansas, U.S.A., in 2018, so you’ll need to look elsewhere if you want to work in the petroleum industry.
If you are a would-be BHP investor, you can find them under ticker BHPLF on the U.S. over-the-counter (OTC) market. There ADR can be found under BHP on the same market.
Headquarters: Houston, TX.
The fracking revolution has radically altered the way the United States produces fossil fuels. The process involves shooting ultrahigh-pressure fluid into underground shale beds to break them up, releasing natural gas or oil. Due to this technology, the United States is now the largest energy producer in the world. Conterra oil is a conglomerate energy-technology company with a focus on fracking technology. The company was formed as Cabot Oil and Gas, but due to several acquisitions, such as the acquisition of Climarex in 2021, it is now named Coterra.
Investors may find Coterra under ticker symbol CTRA on the NYSE. As for people seeking employment, there are many jobs available at Coterra, particularly for those who understand concepts of geology relevant to the process of fracking.
Non-fossil fuel companies
If you really hate fossil fuels because you believe human use of them is causing harmful climate change, you are in luck. There are many companies that use renewable energy resources for energy production. Let’s look at a few companies focused on renewable energy like wind, solar, and hydroelectric power.
Headquarters: Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The harnessing of the movement of water for energy was an important result of the industrial revolution. Hydro-Québec is one of the largest hydropower companies in the world, with 60+ hydro generating stations. They supply hydraulically generated power to all of Quebec and export surplus power to the Northeastern United States. Job-seekers who see a future in hydro-generated electricity and who can legally work in Canada, may find Hydro-Québec a great place to learn how hydroelectric power works and earn some money.
If you are an investor, we are sorry to inform you that, as of this writing, Hydro-Québec is a private company. Should you have a large amount of capital to invest, you are of course, free to contact the company to see if they have any investment opportunities available in your price range.
Headquarters: Changzhou, China.
China today dominates the market for solar energy in both manufacturing and production. Trina Solar is one of the largest companies in this space. Founded in 1997, Trina Solar has grown from a sprouting energy shop into one of the most dominant solar energy companies in the world. They have manufactured Tier 1 solar panels for six years straight.
Though their stock is not yet available on a U.S. exchange, investors with access to Chinese markets may find them listed under number 688599 on the Shanghai exchange. As for job seekers with relevant skills, they may discover that there are job opportunities for foreigners wanting to live in China and see what’s under the hood of harnessing the power of the 太阳 (Sun). There are also jobs available at their many global offices.
Vestas (Vestas Wind Systems A/S)
Headquarters: Aarhus, Denmark.
Vestas is the most dominant wind energy company in the world. It currently has a 16% market share in the wind turbine market. Wind energy has become more and more prevalent over the years as many nations’ governments have aggressively promoted a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, such as by generously subsidizing wind and solar producers and more strictly regulating fossil fuel companies.
As climate-focused activists in these nations push for a more rapid transition, opponents of the transition argue that renewable energy sources like wind cannot realistically scale to a level where they rival the power-production capacities of fossil fuels. And, they add, even if they could, wind energy can be very unreliable. It only harnesses energy if the wind blows fast enough to move the turbines.
However this debate ultimately gets resolved, wind energy has become well established as part of the power grid in many nations. As a result, Vestas seems likely to thrive in the years ahead. So, the company’s European HQ and various global offices are always looking for people.
Investors can find the company’s ADR listed under the symbol VWDRY on the U.S. OTC market.
If your main concerns are humans’ carbon footprint and climate change, companies specializing in renewable energy are not your only option. Nuclear companies are another, since nuclear power does not produce any greenhouse gases.
You will have to be willing to deal with controversy, however. The high-profile Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters, highly negative and fearful portrayals of nuclear energy in popular media, and poor understanding of nuclear energy by the general public have helped make nuclear one of today’s most controversial forms of energy.
Supporters of nuclear energy emphasize that, contrary to popular perception, statistics show that problems are extremely rare and that, mathematically speaking, nuclear is one of the safest power-production methods. It is also, they add, the only carbon-free energy source that can ensure consistently high levels of energy output at all times of day throughout the year. Because they believe that a serious nuclear accident could be too catastrophic to risk, even if statistics show the risk to be almost zero, opponents of nuclear remain unconvinced.
Whatever your personal opinion of nuclear energy, traditional nuclear power plants are still in use, new fission reactor designs are being proposed and implemented, and the dream of a fusion reactor with net-positive energy output seems on the verge of success. You can expect this part of the energy field to remain alive and well for years to come.
Headquarters: Chicago, IL.
Exelon is the nation’s largest utility company, serving more than 10 million customers through six fully regulated transmission and distribution utilities — Atlantic City Electric (ACE), Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE), Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), Delmarva Power & Light (DPL), PECO Energy Company (PECO), and Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco).” — About Exelon
Exelon Corporation is the largest energy company in the United States. As such, it draws upon most currently viable sources of energy to meet the needs of its customers. One noteworthy source of its power is traditional nuclear energy.
Traditional nuclear power plants heat water to produce steam, which causes turbines to spin, converting mechanical energy to electric energy. They do this by a process called nuclear fission, in which atoms are split up. As the atoms continue to split up, they produce energy, which in turn heats the water, which moves the turbines. Exelon has revenues of $33.5 billion and has various offices around the United States.
People with a physics background are always in demand for companies dealing with anything in the nuclear field. Investors may find Excelon under ticker symbol EXC on the Nasdaq.
Prefatory remarks on nuclear fusion
In case you haven’t heard, innovators striving to produce a viable fusion reactor have succeeded in making fusion reactions occur. So far, unfortunately, no one has done so in a way that produces more energy than it takes to start and sustain the reaction.
[N]et gain in fusion, as the old joke goes, is always 10 to 20 years away, no matter what year it is….[but] technological advancements in fields such as high-temperature superconductors, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing are giving cause for optimism” — American Nuclear Society
The following two fusion-focused companies are viable contenders for success in this project.
Headquarters: Burnaby, BC, Canada.
General Fusion is one of the most promising nuclear fusion-focused startups in North America. Created in 2002, General Fusion attempts to solve the problem of how to make the type of reaction that powers the Sun into a net-positive energy producer in an earth-based reactor. As nuclear fission splits particles apart, nuclear fusion fuses them together, which creates exponentially more energy than the fission process. General Fusion has developed a magnetized nuclear fusion reactor that it hopes will recreate this process and harness it. For those who want jobs with companies that are poised to change the world, look no further than General Fusion.
As for investors who want to sink their excess capital into companies poised to change the world, they will not be able to invest in General Fusion through a stock market. As of this writing, the company is private. However, they do invite potential investors to contact them.
Commonwealth Fusion Systems
Headquarters: Cambridge, MA.
Commonwealth Fusion Systems is another company tackling the problem of how to create a net-gain fusion reactor. It has even attracted investment from the likes of George Soros and Bill Gates, individuals with a pretty good track record of picking winning investments. And the company has collaborated with both MIT and the Department of Defense. Again, for those who want to be on the cutting edge of this “holy grail” of energy, there will be positions available in some parts of the company. Though the company is currently private, investors with a lot of capital may try to follow the example of Soros and Gates by contacting the company directly.
What are some careers in the field of energy?
Hydraulic engineers and physicists are two of the many jobs available in the energy field. Hydraulic engineers are needed when developing and building damns that power hydraulically generated energy. Physicists are needed for anything related to energy derived from nuclear power. For those looking for blue-collar career opportunities, welders and truck drivers are always in demand.
Who is the leading energy company?
Experts identify ExxonMobil as the leading and largest energy company today, excluding energy companies owned by governments. As of early September 2022, the company’s market cap was $398.38 billion, which made it the 14th most valuable of all publicly traded companies at the time. Energy-field sibling Chevron was not far behind at $308.98 billion, putting it at 23rd in the value ranking of public companies.
Who is the biggest energy supplier in the world?
The United States of America. In 2020, the United States became a net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products for the first time since 1949. They are also the largest exporter of liquid natural gas in the world (July 2022). Both the fracking revolution and global demand and supply chain interruptions have led the United States to be the largest oil and LNG (liquid natural gas) supplier in the world.
What are the best energy stocks to buy?
This depends on what sort of energy you want to invest in, the quality of specific companies you consider, and current stock prices. Read our Beginner’s Guide to Investing to learn more. If you are looking for blue-chip stocks with a solid track record, you might want to focus on traditional energy behemoths, such as Exxon mobile. If you are looking for something riskier with greater upside potential, green energy and nuclear have some promising stocks.
How many industries are in the energy sector?
There are many industries in the energy sector related to energy extraction, production, and transportation of energy. Fossil fuel extraction and clean energy projects such as wind and solar are two industries involved in the energy sector. Trucking companies and sea freight shipping companies related to the transportation of energy are other examples of industries that could be considered part of the energy sector.
- Companies involved in the energy field are typically involved in the extraction, production, and distribution of energy.
- Fossil fuels are still the majority of energy consumption, but new technology such as nuclear fusion has the chance to change this paradigm.
- The latest iterations of traditional nuclear fission could also unseat fossil fuels as the top energy source, but widespread public perception that fission reactors are too dangerous makes that challenging.
- Wind, water, and solar energy companies are producing renewable energy, but none of these energy sources yet threatens to unseat fossil fuels from their preeminent position.
View Article Sources
- About Exelon: America’s Leading Energy Provider — Excelon
- About Us — Shell
- BHP Annual Report 2021 & About Us — BHP
- Commonwealth Fusion Systems Home Page — Commonwealth Fusion Systems
- Fracking Companies Continue Consolidation as Cabot, Cimarex Form $14 Billion Firm — Wall Street Journal
- History: See Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going — Chevron
- Investor Centre & Home Page —General Fusion
- Louisiana Petroleum Industry Facts — Louisiana State University
- Nuclear-Fusion Startup Lands $1.8 Billion as Investors Chase Star Power — Wall Street Journal
- Nuclear fusion: Are we getting close? — American Nuclear Society
- Podcast interview with Nate Hagens, Director of The Institute for the Study of Energy — YouTube
- Reference Tools — Independent Petroleum Association
- Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States (1911) — Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School
- Technology — Commonwealth Fusion Systems
- The Antitrust Laws — Federal Trade Commission
- Trina Solar US Home Page — Trina Solar
- Units and calculators explained & Nuclear explained — U.S. Energy Information Administration
- U.S. Is World’s Largest Oil and Natural Gas Producer—Despite Biden’s Energy-Constraining Policies — Heritage Foundation
- Vestas History — Vestas
- Who We Are — Coterra
- Who We Are — ExxonMobil
- Working for you: A source of pride — Hydro-Québec
In addition to these external sources, readers may find multiple links to helpful SuperMoney pages in the article above.