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Plunging oil prices choke off boom in Bakersfield
Plunging oil prices choke off boom in Bakersfield

Each year, the American Assn. of Drilling Engineers hosts a meeting here affectionately called the Liar's Club. A cocktail-fueled crowd hears oil companies' well-drilling and production forecasts — estimates often so grandiose everyone understands they are exaggerations. Pledges to drill thousands of wells are common. But at this month's meeting, no one felt like telling tall tales. Fewer than 10 wells were promised, all by small, independent companies. Giant firms — Chevron, Occidental — promised nothing, said Dave Rippy, general manager of Bakersfield Drilling Consultants, who has attended for two decades. "I've never seen anything like...

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