International oil companies report third quarter slump

Lower oil and gas prices reduced profits and slowed third quarter exploration and production efforts for international integrated oil companies, but the firms also noted that higher gas sale volumes have helped offset the impact of sliding oil prices. Oil prices have softened in the face of weakening demand, particularly for aviation fuel, in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the US.BP Group CEO John Browne said the immediate outlook for oil prices hinges upon the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' ability to secure production cuts. "The critical issue, as we look forward, is whether OPEC will curb that output sufficiently to pull the crude price back within it...

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