After years of making record profits as oil prices soared, America’s oil giants are beginning to lose money.
For the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, ConocoPhillips, the nation’s third-largest oil and gas producer, reported on Thursday that it had lost money — $39 million in the fourth quarter in contrast to a profit of $2.5 billion the year before. And Occidental Petroleum, another large producer in United States shale fields and the Middle East, said it lost $3.4 billion in the quarter, in contrast to a $1.6 billion gain in the same quarter in 2013.
The primary reason for the fall in the earnings has been the collapse in oil prices since June by more than 50 percent. That decline, which extends to natural gas as well, has only accelerated in January, leading energy experts to expect even worse results for the current quarter.