NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Big Oil generally brings to mind Texas and companies headquartered in energy producing West and Midwestern states such as Chevron (CVX) , ConocoPhillips (COP) , Exxon Mobil (XOM) , and Occidental Petroleum (OXY) , among others.
But Big Oil companies that are based abroad such as BP (BP - Get Report) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) can be just as attractive, especially when it comes to dividend income. For income investors, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total (TOT - Get Report) , and Eni (E) are European oil companies with dividend yields at more than 4% that long term investors should find attractive for a variety of factors.
Oil and natural gas is pretty much a global industry.
There are plenty of foreign oil firms with substantial holdings in Texas, and other American states. The recent 3 Reasons to Be Bullish About BHP Billiton Now Becoming Big Oil detailed the $20 billion that Australia-based BHP Billiton (BHP) held in energy assets based in Texas and other Southwestern states. News coverage of BP's operations in the Gulf of Mexico has certainly been ample since 2010. It really does not matter where an oil company is based, be it Houston or Holland, as the globe is the field of operations for major energy firms.
But the dividend yield matters a great deal to investors.
Kevin O'Leary, an investor who was on the advisory board of Genstar Capital, recently stated on CNBC that, "73% of the S&P 500's returns in the last 40 years came from dividends, not capital appreciation."
At present, the average dividend yield for a member of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index (SPY) is 1.88%. The chart below shows how much higher the dividend yield is for oil companies, especially those based in Europe. Chevron, Exxon, all have yields under 4%; with BP, Eni Spa, Shell and Total all being over that mark.