Canada's independents expect tough year

Canadian independents are bracing for an uncertain year in the face of low oil prices that have chilled earnings, drilling activity, and spending plans. One bright spot was the arrival in late December of below-zero temperatures in many parts of Canada and the U.S. That bumped demand and prices for natural gas after temperatures had remained unseasonably high well into the prime heating season. Low oil prices through most of 1998 triggered a negative chain reaction in Western Canada's oil sector. Companies scrambled to cut costs. There was a wave of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity, while many companies tried to balance high debt loads with declining cash fl...

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