Transnational energy companies’ investment allocation decisions
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- Working papers (SNF) 
When making international capital budgeting decisions, energy companies are often faced with capital and organisational constraints. The constraints may be real or management imposed. In addition, when entering into a new country or region the companies will incur fixed new area costs that must be considered before investment approval. The decision problem is therefore not a linear problem where the standard net present value rule applies, but a non-linear problem of selecting the combination of projects with the maximum aggregate net present value. New project investments will therefore be selected based on the size of the net present value (often referred to as financial volume or materiality) compared to the projects’ use of capital and scarce personnel and organisational capacity. Consequently, projects with a positive net present value, but with low materiality, may not be approved. The portfolio choice has a parallel to the company’s choice of core areas. Instead of complex portfolio models, the companies often apply simpler allocation mechanisms, e.g., combinations of fixed investment budgets and materiality requirements. Analysing petroleum cases, we compare the allocations decisions generated by portfolio models and simpler mechanisms. We also discuss the implications of this capital allocation pattern for governments’ design of tax systems and license conditions.