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Oil Got Trounced And Solar Soared In The First Half

The first half of 2017 marked the worst first-half performance for crude oil since 1998. The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent crude both fell 14% in the first half of the year. Coal and natural gas also declined by more than 10% in the first half.

Nearly every segment of the energy sector was hard hit. The Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF, which represents the largest energy companies in the S&P 500, declined by 14.8% in the first half. The S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production SPDR ETF, which is more representative of the smaller oil and gas drillers, had a total shareholder return (TSR) of -22.9%.

Among the 20 largest North American and Western European energy companies, only four registered positive returns. The top performer of this group was Williams Partners LP, with a TSR of 9.3%. The worst performer of this group was Schlumberger with a TSR of -20.5%.

Among the five super major oil and gas companies, the top performance was turned in by Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A, RDS-B) with a TSR of 0.7%. Chevron (CVX) was last among this group with a TSR of -9.6%, followed closely by ExxonMobil (XOM) at -8.9%.

The carnage was so extensive that only two of the Top 50 oil and gas producers had a positive return in the 1st half. The top performer in this group...