US oil firms' 4Q earnings rise, 2002 results slip; service companies suffer throughout

US and Canadian oil and natural gas firms posted strong results for the fourth quarter, while service and supply companies' earnings were mostly lower. Earnings for each group of companies declined for 2002. A sampling of Canadian companies recorded similar results (see related story, p. 24).Higher oil and gas prices lifted the earnings of producers. These prices helped upstream results but weakened downstream earnings for the full year. During the fourth quarter, the near-month futures price of oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange averaged $28.23/bbl. Meanwhile, the NYMEX futures price of gas during that period averaged $4.32/MMbtu.Stronger refining margins increased downstream ea...

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