Surprised? Valero isn't an "oil company" in the sense that most Americans think of an "oil company." Valero is an oil refiner, and fuel marketer and retailer. It does not produce oil and gas. A local business radio program host said this week that "even the oil companies are feeling the pinch," citing Valero's announcement that its first-quarter margin will not meet guidance due to higher oil prices and a narrower spread between the price it is paying for the crude product and the price it can charge at the pump. ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and other "integrated oil companies" are "oil companies" that produce oil and gas and also have refinining/marketing/retail operations like Valero. It is likely their refining business units may have a narrower profit margin as well. But these "oil companies" in their oil and gas production business units, as well as pure-play oil and gas companies that only produce it, are not feeling "a pinch," except that their costs to find, develop and produce oil and gas are growing due to industry service, equipment and wage inflation. With US$100 oil and US$9 natural gas, though, they're tickled and not pinched. --Nissa Darbonne, Executive Editor, Oil and Gas Investor, A&D Watch, Oil and Gas Investor This Week,;