September 2002


Upstream activity remains disconnected from prices. When our readers and industry friends ask us where E&P activity levels are headed, we try to give them a short-term forecast based on supply-and-demand levels, and oil and gas price trends. Sometimes, we factor in overriding political issues or major news stories that rule the day. Occasionally, we run into periods where there are no good reasons for activity to be up or down. Right now is one of those strange periods. When was the last time that West Texas Intermediate and natural gas spot prices in the U.S. stayed consistently at or above $25/bbl and $3/Mcf, yet most E&P stats remained in the doldrums? Ah, you can’t answer that one, can you good reader, because these are not normal, reasonable times. What is underway at present is a distinct "disconnect" between price levels and industry behavior.

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