But the industry shouldn’t get complacent, warned Robert Clarke of energy industry research and consulting group Wood Mackenzie. Cracks already are starting to emerge in the optimistic forecasts of how much these shale formations can produce, which is a bad sign for turning around the industry’s struggling finances.
“It was only the best rigs, with the most experienced crews, drilling the best rock at the lowest service costs,” which were doing well in 2016, said Clarke at the 2018 Energy Information Administration (EIA) annual conference in June. “If you are a producer, it’s very dangerous to think that that is the new norm.”
But producers seemed to think it was the new normal and plowed ahead, going all in on fracking in the Permain Basin, currently seen as the best shale play in the country.
Granted, the results have been impressive from a production standpoint. The EIA expects “Permian regional production to average 3.3 million [barrels per day] in 2018 and 3.9 million [barrels per day] in 2019.” Those numbers may reach 5.4 million barrels a day by 2023, according to oil industry consultants IHS Markit.
While the Permian’s oil production has been prolific, it hasn’t translated into profits. “Why Aren’t Permian Oil Producers Profitable?” asked a headline on industry publication Oilprice.com this past May.
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