Big Oil's Surprising Problems

Supplies are up, demand is down, and profits are falling

It has been a long time since the 13 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries were unable to sell every barrel of crude they pumped, or since oil companies such as Exxon, Mobil Oil and Gulf Oil suffered from declining profits and bulging inventories. But that is precisely the situation in the suddenly upside-down world oil market. Skyrocketing prices and sagging demand have brought on a continuing petroleum mini-glut.

Oil company inventories around the world are now swelling with a surplus of excess production that oilmen estimate may amount to as...

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