Earnings droop in 2001 for many US oil and gas firms

US oil and gas firms posted sharply lower financial results for the fourth quarter and full-year 2001.A sagging economy exacerbated the flabby supply and demand fundamentals that pulled down oil, natural gas, and petroleum product prices, especially in the second half of the year.Substantially lower oil and gas realizations, which weakened throughout the fourth quarter, wreaked havoc on the earnings of producers. Lower refining margins in the wake of the economic downturn and decreased demand-owing in part to warmer-than-normal winter weather-pressured downstream earnings.Elsewhere in the petroleum industry, results were mixed. Service and supply companies recorded improved results, while...

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