Budget caution averts panic over oil price slide

11/22/2004
The price of crude oil has fallen by more than $7/bbl in 3 weeks. Shouldn't oil companies be canceling projects, laying off workers, and shedding physical assets? Is a $7/bbl slide no longer sufficient to shove industry managers into scorched-earth mode?Apparently not. There's no sense of panic. Companies are going about their business.Part of the reason for the calm response to a bona fide price slump is simple arithmetic. A $7 decline from $56/bbl, in the case of West Texas Intermediate spot crude, isn't the same as a $7 swoon from $20/bbl.Furthermore, few decision-makers in the industry expected $56/bbl oil to last.Sure, the price might have lurched even higher if oil-field...
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