Profit growth may slow to a trickle, but the world still craves oil, and companies that can easily crank up production of crude should do best

The energy industry won't match the blistering rise in profits it enjoyed in 1996. The problem isn't demand. Even though Asia's energy-hungry Tigers should moderate their pell-mell expansion, worldwide energy demand will still rise perhaps 2.4%, just short of last year's torrid 2.7% rise. Supply isn't a problem, either. Iraq's return to the world oil market should depress prices only slightly by adding 600,000 barrels of oil a day to supplies.

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