After a terrible 2020, the oil industry’s story has turned political

IEEFA | It was a dismal year for oil and gas. As the pandemic sucked the wind from the sails of the global economy, oil demand slumped, stockpiles swelled, prices sagged, capital spending collapsed, debt ballooned, profits evaporated, and bankruptcies skyrocketed. After this torrent of bad news, the energy sector ended the year in last place in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index.


Last place is now familiar territory for oil and gas. The industry placed at the bottom of the S&P 500 in five of the last seven years, and second-to-last in a sixth. Even so, 2020 marked a new low. Within the S&P 500, the energy sector lost more than a third of its value during the year, even as the index as a whole rose by 18 percent.


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