Global drilling and production: Not as bad as they seem ///

Global oil production was nearly flat in 2008, up just 0.27%. It would have been up considerably more, but the crash in prices, plus OPEC production cuts in the last three months of the year, caused Saudi Arabia, Angola and others to reduce output well below capacity. It was a classic bubble: Sky-high oil prices caused dramatically increased drilling and new projects, which, after delays and high well-construction costs, finally came online just as prices were crashing. This was partly because oil-importing countries were exporting increasing amounts of cash to the exporters. The result was way too much production just as demand was crashing. Operators are waiting to see whether OPEC solidarity will be successful in cutting production to meet the steep drop in global demand, thus returning prices to $75 levels, which is the goal. However, if OPEC is not careful, too-high prices could easily forestall any fragile economic recovery, assuming one occurs, and that would again decrease demand,

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