Each autumn, as the leaves begin to fall, executives start to collect data points, studies and projections from multiple sources, gathering acorns of insight ahead of the new fiscal year. After poring over reports to feed data into their internal models, they adjust their spreadsheets and scenarios.

There are no definitive answers, but CEOs seek strong signposts upon which to plan their 2018 budgets and production goals. These involve looking at oil and gas supply and demand, how much OPEC members will produce, geopolitical tensions such as in the Middle East, China’s oil demand and what the U.S. government may do to alter fiscal and regulatory schemes.

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