Hope for 2003 lies in forecasts for little change

The oil and gas business is about to get better.Indications of this happy circumstance come from the popular view that 2003 will pretty much duplicate 2002.Of course 2002 was nothing for the oil and gas industry to cheer about.Although prices of crude oil and natural gas were high enough to make most production profitable, drilling was moribund. Service and supply companies suffered. And downstream margins were poor for much of the year.Normally, forecasters would see the seeds of recovery in these trends: demand stimulated by economic recovery outrunning production restrained by a year of sluggish drilling and refinery activity, pushing up prices, reinvigorating business.But it's eas...

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