E&P activity, refining drive third-quarter earnings

Although most companies in a sample of US-based oil and gas firms posted moderate third-quarter 2006 profits or losses, big earnings gains by a handful of large operators propelled the group toward an increase in net income as compared with third-quarter earnings a year earlier.Downstream results, led by strong refining and marketing margins, drove profits for refiners and integrated companies. Product demand, especially that for transportation fuels, was strong during the quarter as well as in the first 9 months of this year, pushing refining throughputs higher. Refinery utilization in the US held above 93% during the third quarter, according to the American Petroleum Institute.On averag...

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