‘The days of $100 oil are gone.’ So what’s next?

Over the past two weeks, energy companies have disclosed plummeting sales, deep losses, and thousands of layoffs.

Oil services companies Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes said they eliminated a combined 16,000 jobs from April to June. Houston-area independents ConocoPhillips and Anadarko said they lost hundreds of millions of dollars even as they slashed spending.

RELATED: Halliburton reports $3.2 billion loss after failed Baker Hughes deal, cuts 5,000 jobs

Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron, each with a major presence in the metro area, reported their worst financial performances in more than a decade. Houston refiner Phillips 66 said its second-quarter profit fell by half from a year ago.

“It’s just been a tumultuous time for everybody,” said Brian Youngberg, a senior energy analyst at the St. Louis investment company Edward Jones. “There’s nowhere to hide.”

This drumbeat of dismal news, combined with significant retreat in crude prices, have tempered what had been growing optimism of a steady recovery after a two-year downturn. Since breaking above $50 a barrel in June, crude prices have fallen nearly 15?percent, dampening hopes that drillers could increase production and hiring.

The worst might be over, Youngberg said, but it’s not going to get much better anytime soon. Companies should get used to oil prices in the $40s this year, he said, with $50-a-barrel oil perhaps returning next year. Oil at $60 a barrel? Maybe in 2018, he said.

RELATED: Oil rises after its dip below $40 a barrel

“The days of $100 oil are gone,” he said. “Rigs will come back, but these companies aren’t going to ramp up to where they were five years ago.”

At HoustonChronicle.com, David Hunn reports on why this downturn is different than others in the past and how companies are coping.

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