Exxon had precisely zero upstream interest in the Mediterranean and North Africa as recently as 2016. It last year bagged key deepwater exploration blocks off Cyprus and Mauritania; a Crete award looks imminent and it is eying Algeria and Egypt.

US super major ExxonMobil has made North America, and shale in particular, the key focus of its spending since oil prices tanked in the second half of 2014, the same year that it opted against renewing its stake in the UAE’s Adco concession....