The most important question in the oil market is whether American production is falling as prices drop. Official oil data aren’t giving a straight answer. Investors, traders and executives who rely on federal data from the Energy Information Administration are tripping over conflicting images of U.S. production that have emerged from separate EIA reports in recent months. At stake are billions of dollars of wagers on the direction of oil prices as well as potential long-term investments by energy companies. Oil prices have swooned by more than 50% over the past year, due largely to a boom in production from U.S. shale-oil fields. Many analysts say prices will only stabilize after less-economical production is squeezed out, spurring a sustained decline in output. Weekly oil-output estimates from the EIA started to show falling production in April. Separate EIA reports on shale-oil drilling have forecast production declines for months. But the […]