There were multiple lights, shining long into dark, holiday-season nights, at midstream fi rms’ headquarters as 2016 ended. Seasonal cheer was not the point. Rather, those lights lit planning and budgeting departments as tired staffers sat at their computers, trying to fi gure out how to plan relevant capex budgets for 2017.

Crystal balls might have been more help than advanced budgeting software. Differing trends pull the energy business in opposing directions as a new year begins. This could be the year commodity prices rise—or they could remain depressed. The regulatory burden may lift—or be replaced by environmental activism. Traditional capital sources may open—or remain tight.