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Top Eagle Ford news stories: April 29 – May 6

Here’s a recap on the top Eagle Ford news stories from the past week. Energy producers continue to struggle with depressed oil prices and two oil majors abandoned plans for a merger as opposition from regulators mounted.

5. Exxon sees smallest profit in 16 years, Chevron posts loss

FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, file photo, gas prices are displayed at a Chevron gas station in Sacramento, Calif. Chevron reports financial results Friday, April 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

FILE – In this Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, file photo, gas prices are displayed at a Chevron gas station in Sacramento, Calif. Chevron reports financial results Friday, April 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

DALLAS (AP) — Motorists are saving billions on cheaper gasoline, but the long slump in oil prices is taking a heavy toll on companies that find and produce crude.

Exxon Mobil posted its smallest quarterly profit in more than 16 years Friday, while Chevron lost $725 million, its worst showing since 2002, and raised the number of jobs it expects to cut this year from 7,000 to 8,000. Other oil companies are expected to report weak earnings in the next few days.

Oil prices have tumbled from their 2014 highs of over $100 a barrel, bottoming out at under $30 in mid-February, because of a worldwide glut. Giant companies like Exxon and major petroleum-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia have continued to pump more from the ground despite the slide in prices.

Read more about Exxon Mobil and Chevron here.

4. Energy producers weather historic oil market collapse

An oil and gas pump jack operating in the Niobrara Shale formation in Weld County, Colorado. (Image: CL Baker via Flickr)

An oil and gas pump jack operating in the Niobrara Shale formation in Weld County, Colorado. (Image: CL Baker via Flickr)

The oil market collapse has put more pressure on energy producers than ever before, causing an unprecedented financial crisis, according to industry officials.

On average, an oil company earns only $26 for each barrel of oil sold at current oil prices, according to a report by the Houston Chronicle. In February, oil prices in the United States fell to a 13-year low of $26 per barrel. Drillers could not generate cash at those prices, but still had to pay off debts.

Margins had never been slimmer, one industry specialist said Wednesday at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.

Read more about the historic oil market collapse here.

3. US rig count drops 11 this week to 420, another all-time low

Energy Media Group

Energy Media Group

HOUSTON (AP) — The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. dropped by 11 this week to 420, again reaching an-time low amid depressed energy industry prices.

A year ago, 905 rigs were active.

Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday 332 rigs sought oil and 87 explored for natural gas. One was listed as miscellaneous.

Read more about last week’s rig count here.

2. Former Southwestern Energy worker guilty of $450K theft

Image via Pixabay

Image via Pixabay

HOUSTON (AP) — A former financial employee of Southwestern Energy Co. faces up to 80 years in prison for embezzling more than $450,000 from the oil and gas company.

Kendra Walker of Houston pleaded guilty Monday to four counts of wire fraud. The 28-year-old Walker remains free on bond pending sentencing in federal court in Houston.

Read more about wire fraud by a former Southwestern Energy employee here.

1. Energy explorers Halliburton and Baker Hughes abandon merger

FILE - In a Nov. 18, 2014 file photo, Halliburton Chairman, President and CEO David Lesar, third from right, rings the New York Stock Exchange opening bell. Halliburton and Baker Hughes, two companies crucial to the business of U.S. energy exploration, have abandoned their planned $34 billion merger, the Justice Department said Sunday, May 1, 2016. The department filed suit April 6 to block the merger. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

FILE – In a Nov. 18, 2014 file photo, Halliburton Chairman, President and CEO David Lesar, third from right, rings the New York Stock Exchange opening bell. Halliburton and Baker Hughes, two companies crucial to the business of U.S. energy exploration, have abandoned their planned $34 billion merger, the Justice Department said Sunday, May 1, 2016. The department filed suit April 6 to block the merger. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two companies crucial to the business of U.S. energy exploration, Halliburton and Baker Hughes, have abandoned their planned merger in the face of opposition by regulators who said it would hurt competition.

Prospects for the merger, which was valued at nearly $35 billion when it was announced in 2014, seemed especially bleak after the Justice Department sued to block the deal on April 6.

The government claimed the merger would lead to higher prices by unlawfully eliminating significant competition in markets for almost two dozen services and products crucial to finding and producing oil and natural gas in the United States.

Read more about Halliburton and Baker Hughes here.

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