OIL: Quick Change

The U.S. oil industry thought a year ago that its long-gushing boom was trickling out. In its hell-far-leather expansion, the industry had overtaken all demand and for the first time since World War II found itself producing more oil than it could sell. State commissions, which set the legal flow of oil from wells in the five big producing states, cut back the allowable production, to prevent a bigger glut.

But the industry had underestimated the growth of the U.S. economy and the resurgence of the business boom. By last week, demand for oil had soared until the industry was producing...

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