Despite deep spending cuts, energy companies’ costs still exceed their cash flow, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal.

Stock analysts say the shortfalls will surface in earnings reports this week. Without an increase in oil prices, it could take years for the companies to get their costs under control.

During the first half of the year Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP PLC, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. spent a combined $20 billion to fund new projects, buy back shares and pay dividends than the cash the firms generated.

The oil price slump is now in its 16th month, and oilfield service companies are also suffering, with the market for drilling equipment a fraction of what it was a year ago.