Oil prices move higher, market mood stays low

Oil prices recovered slightly Tuesday from the dramatic sell-off a day earlier, but not enough to brighten the dim outlook that’s intensifying the industry’s drive to find new ways to slash costs and operate more efficiently.

Domestic benchmark crude rose $1.07 to $39.31, but prices remain in territory not seen in six and a half years.

Responding to the continuing downturn, offshore rig contractor Transocean proposed a series of deep cutbacks Tuesday, including suspension of its dividend, subject to shareholder approval at a special meeting in October.

Offshore drillers have been hit especially hard as companies pull back from expensive deep-water drilling and production.

But amid the gloom, speakers at a Houston conference Tuesday said oil companies are continuing to innovate – now out of necessity – to find technology that can boost productivity and efficiency.

“If prices stay lower for longer, the only mechanism to keep a sustainable low-cost view is to invest in technology and innovate,” said Nagaraj Srinivasan, vice president of Landmark, a leading software provider for the oil industry.

Landmark, a division of oil field services giant Halliburton, hosted an annual innovation expo Tuesday in Houston that drew more than 500 attendees, double last year’s attendance.

The full story is on houstonchronicle.com.