Fourth-quarter earnings surged for US, Canadian firms

High commodity prices continued to buoy earnings for US and Canadian oil and gas firms in the fourth quarter of 2004 as strong downstream performance bolstered results of integrated companies and independent refiners.Wellhead prices of oil and gas posted big gains from their levels in the final quarter of 2003. The US wellhead oil price jumped to an average $42.40/bbl in the last 3 months of 2004 from $27.42/bbl in the same period a year earlier. And the US wellhead natural gas price averaged $5.92/Mcf in the fourth quarter, up from $4.45/Mcf a year earlier.Meanwhile, the spot price of crude outside the US averaged $38.62/bbl during the fourth quarter vs. $27.64/bbl during the same 2003 p...

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