Energy firms improve outlook, despite OPEC doubts

By Rye Druzin, San Antonio Express-News

Oil and gas producers and service operators are hoping to continue their upward momentum in 2017 as oil and gas prices stabilize, according to a new survey.

More than half of all firms responding to the quarterly Energy Survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported increasing levels of business activity in the fourth quarter, and 46 percent reported rising capital expenditures. The numbers are a stark turnaround from the first quarter of the year, when 56 percent of firms surveyed said business activity was decreasing and nearly 60 percent were reducing capital expenditures.

The Dallas Fed’s Energy Survey polled 147 energy firms, of which 67 were exploration and production companies and 80 were in oil field services. The area surveyed includes Texas, northern Louisiana and southern New Mexico.

Despite the general optimism in the fourth quarter, 58 percent of respondents said they doubt that commitments made by members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC oil producers would be enforced.

On Nov. 30, OPEC members led by Saudi Arabia committed to reducing oil production by more than a million barrels a day. In mid-December, Russia and other non-OPEC oil producers committed to reducing production by a further 558,000 for the new year.

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