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U.S. Shale Braces For Brutal Earnings Season

U.S. Shale Braces For Brutal Earnings Season

U.S. Shale

A lot of big names will report third quarter earnings this week, and the results are expected to be worse than the same period in 2018.

The timing comes as the shale sector is facing somewhat of a reckoning. After years of price volatility – with more downs than ups – oil prices have failed to return even remotely close to pre-2014 levels. For several years, shale E&Ps took on debt and issued new equity, promising investors that they would profit both from a rebound in prices and from rapid production growth.

They delivered on gains to output, but not on profits. At some point in the last year, investors really began to lose faith. Oil stocks have been the worst performers in the S&P 500 this year.

The latest release of earnings will probably do little to quell unease from big investors. Oil and natural gas prices have dropped this year, by about 17 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Job cuts have returned and bankruptcies are on the rise again.

The oil majors are pressing forward with their aggressive shale development plans. That may prevent a noticeable decline in production. But their earnings – many of the majors report this week – are expected to be down roughly 40 percent from a year ago, which will raise some tough questions.

Some of the largest banks have slashed their credit lines to smaller shale E&Ps. According to Reuters, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and the Royal Bank of Canada are among some of the lenders that have reduced the amount of credit they are offering to drillers.

The so-called credit redetermination period happens twice a year, and banks tend to offer financing based on a company’s reserves. Lower prices lower that assessment because some reserves become uneconomic to produce. As a result, the ability to access financing becomes more restricted.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Unsettled Weather

Unsettled Weather


After leaving the Bahamas for dead, Hurricane Dorian barely grazed the US mainland en route to the Canadian shoals of oblivion, perhaps saving America’s insurance industry. But the steamy west coast of Africa is hurling out a cavalcade of replacements as the high season for Atlantic storms commences, so better keep the plywood sheets at hand. Lots of things are looking stormy around the world just now: nations, markets, politics — everything really except all three divisions of the American League… yawn….

The world is in a nervous place these days The US is something like the world’s crazy old auntie, whom everyone else would like to lock in the attic. Except she happens to be cradling a bazooka, so they’ll go on trying to ignore her a while longer, hoping she doesn’t launch any rockets at the neighbors.

Britain courts chaos in its attempt to keep staving off the Brexit quandary, which itself seems to promise a hearty dose of chaos as thousands of unresolved trade issues threaten the country’s economic future walking out on Europe. The majority who voted Brexit feel that the EU is already crushing them under bureaucratic diktat and immigration quotas. New Prime Minister Bo-Jo has tried one ploy after another in his quest to reach the Halloween Brexit ramp. Everyone is ganging up on him, even his own brother, Jo Johnson, who has quit the cabinet and is ditching his seat in parliament. Bo-Jo wants to call an election because there is no one else to take his place, and many of those piling on him also detest the opposition Labor Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Events are outrunning anybody’s ability to see what happens next. Street violence is not out of the question.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bizarro World: The Herd Has Truly Gone MadYou’re not crazy. The world we now live in is

Bizarro World: The Herd Has Truly Gone MadYou’re not crazy. The world we now live in is

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

~ Charles Mackay (1841)

Like me, you may often feel gobsmacked when looking at the world around you.

How did things get so screwed up?

The simple summary is: the world has gone mad.

It’s not the first time.

History is peppered with periods when the minds of men (and women) deviated far from the common good. The Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, the rise of the Third Reich, Stalin’s Great Purge, McCarthy’s Red Scares — to name just a few.

Like it or not, we are now living during a similar era of self-destructive mass delusion. When the majority is pursuing — even cheering on — behaviors that undermine its well-being. Except this time, the stakes are higher than ever; our species’ very existence is at risk.

Bizarro Economics

Evidence that the economy is sliding into recession continues to mount.

GDP is slowing. Earnings warnings issued by publicly-traded companies are at a 13-year high. The most reliable recession predictor of the past 50 years, an inverted US Treasury curve, has been in place for the past quarter.

Yet the major stock indices hit all-time highs earlier this week. And every one of the 38 assets in the broad-based asset basket tracked by Deutsche Bank was up for the month of June — something that has never happened in the 150 years prior to 2019.

It has become all-too clear that markets today are no longer driven by business fundamentals. Only central bank-provided liquidity matters. As long as the flood of cheap credit continues to flow (via rock-bottom/negative interest rates and purchase programs), keeping cash-destroying companies alive and enabling record share buybacks, all boats will rise.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Shale oil and gas: Destroying capital one well at a time

Shale oil and gas: Destroying capital one well at a time

Recently, the former CEO of the largest shale gas producer in the United States told a roomful of conference goers what any competent financial analysis would have revealed many years ago: the shale oil and gas industry as a whole has been destroying capital since its inception.

“The fact is that every time they put the drill bit to the ground, they erode the value of the billions of dollars of previous investments they have made,” said Steve Schlotterbeck, former head of natural gas behemoth EQT, at a petrochemical industry conference. “It’s frankly no wonder that their equity valuations continue to fall dramatically.”

But, the real news here is not that the shale oil and gas industry has from its beginning been destroying capital one well at a time. It’s that a major industry insider freed from the constraints of his former job has admitted it.

Schlotterbeck calculates that the industry as a whole has destroyed 80 percent of its value since 2008. It turns out that the so-called shale revolution is a revolution as much in investor stupidity as it is in technology, a technology that can’t seem to produce actual industry profits. The former CEO added that there have been 172 bankruptcies among exploration and production companies engaged in the shale oil and gas business just since 2015.

Now the significance of this message is as much where it was said as who said it. Schlotterbeck was addressing attendees of the Northeast Petrochemical Exhibition & Conference in Pittsburgh in mid-June. The predominant buzz at the conference was a plan to turn Pennsylvania and Ohio, which sit above large shale gas resources, into a petrochemical and plastics center similar that which exists on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

TROUBLE AT THE BAKKEN: Oil Production Finally Peaking?

TROUBLE AT THE BAKKEN: Oil Production Finally Peaking?

Is the mighty Bakken Shale Oil Field finally peaking?  Well, according to the data from the folks at the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, oil production in the Bakken has been flat for the past six months.  And, to make matters worse, production has been flat even though oil prices increased from a low of $42 in January to the mid $60’s in April.

So, something seriously wrong is going on in North Dakota.  What a difference in the Bakken’s recent oil supply compared to the field’s heyday when production surged from 300,000 barrels per day in 2011 to over 1.1 million barrels per day in 2014.  Furthermore, the oil price the shale companies in the Bakken are receiving is now $48 a barrel versus the West Texas Intermediate price of $57.

If we look at the past seven months, the North Dakota Bakken has only added 36,000 barrels per day (bd) of new oil production compared to 114,000 bd during the same period last year:

As we can see in the chart above, the output from Sep 2017 to Apr 2018 enjoyed an upward trend, while the Sep 2018-Apr 2019 has been flat.  You can see this better in Enno Peters chart from ShaleProfile.com.  I highly recommend followers check out his site as he provides updates on the top shale oil and gas fields in the United States using state data from over 100,000 wells.

These charts from ShaleProfile.com show the annual change production by different colors.  Here we can see that Bakken oil production increased steadily from 2011 to 2014, plateaued in late 2014 and 2015, declined in 2016, raised in 2017-2018, and has plateaued once again in 2019. The likely culprit for the plateau in Bakken oil production has to do with the lower oil price and the reduction of investment funds available to the shale companies that continue to spend more money than they make.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Global Economic Growth In Serious Trouble When U.S. Shale Oil Peaks & Declines

Global Economic Growth In Serious Trouble When U.S. Shale Oil Peaks & Declines

The global economy would be in serious trouble if it weren’t for the rapid growth of U.S. shale oil production.  Since the 2008 financial crisis, U.S. shale oil production has increased by more than 6 million barrels per day.  Without these additional barrels of oil, the massive money printing and asset purchases by the central banks would not have been as successful in propping up the economy and markets.

We must remember this simple fact; energy drives the markets, not finance. Finance steers the market.  So, for the economy to expand, there must be oil production growth.  However, it would be unwise for the market-economy to rely upon the U.S. shale industry as the leading driver of global oil production growth for the foreseeable future.

Why?  Well, there are several reasons, but let’s first look at how much the increase in U.S. shale oil production has accounted for the rise in global oil supply since 2008. Of the 9.6 million barrels per day (mbd) of global oil production growth 2008-2017, the United States supplied two-thirds or 6.3 mbd of the total:

Interestingly, global oil production minus the United States and Canada didn’t increase in 2009, 2010 or 2011.  There was a small bump up in 2012 and finally by 2105-2017 did global oil production minus the U.S. and Canada increase by 1.7 mbd.  Now, let me repeat that.  If we add up ALL THE OTHER COUNTRIES in the world producing oil, the net increase from 2008 to 2017 was only 1.7 mbd. Thus, of the total 9.6 mbd of global oil production growth 2008-2017, the U.S. (6.3 mbd) and Canada (1.6 mbd) accounted for 82% of the total.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Does Chevron know exactly what shale oil and gas are worth?

Does Chevron know exactly what shale oil and gas are worth?

Welcome to the bidding war that didn’t happen. The decision last week by international oil giant Chevron Corp. to leave its takeover bid for shale oil and gas-heavy Anadarko Petroleum Corp. unaltered in the wake of a higher offer from rival bidder Occidental Petroleum Corp. surprised some who had expected a back and forth escalation between the two competitors.

Chevron’s CEO told Bloomberg, “Winning in any environment doesn’t mean winning at any cost.” Chevron’s hesitancy to pay up for Anadarko’s assets suggests a measured assessment about what Anadarko might deliver, one tempered by emerging political developments and perhaps a less sanguine view about the durability of the shale boom.

Anadarko, after all, has considerable operations in Colorado which recently enacted a billincreasing the ability of municipalities to curtail oil and gas development, authorizing more stringent air quality monitoring and rules, and turning the commission which was tasked with “fostering” oil and gas development into one which actually regulates it. That spells less oil and gas development in a state that has been critical to Anadarko and to the shale boom.

The promoters of shale oil and gas investment are pretending as if the kind of backlash which happened in Colorado could not occur elsewhere. Don’t count on that being the case.

Beyond this, energy writer Nick Cunningham summarizes the most recent update of prospects for shale hydrocarbons released by a skeptical Post Carbon Institute. Issues identified by the institute way back in 2012 have continued to unfold as foretold. All the technological improvements since then are only hastening the day when production will turn down according to the report’s author. Simply put, production from oil and gas shale deposits is being “frontloaded.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

LOUSY SHALE ECONOMICS: Financial Troubles Continue At ExxonMobil

LOUSY SHALE ECONOMICS: Financial Troubles Continue At ExxonMobil

After reporting lower than expected earnings, ExxonMobil’s stock price sold off on Friday.  The company blamed poor performance on reduced production volumes and a weaker oil price.  However, the real culprit will turn out to be Exxon’s big move into the Great U.S. Shale Oil Ponzi Scheme.

As I mentioned in my recent article, EXXONMOBIL U.S. OIL & GAS FINANCIAL TRAIN-WRECK: Producing Shale Is Destroying Its Bottom Line, the company will continue to spend a great deal of capital with little financial reward.  So, it wasn’t a surprise to see Exxon’s Q1 2019 earnings decline by $3.6 billion compared to the previous quarter… even though U.S. oil production had increased.

While weaker earnings were experienced across all of the company’s sectors, upstream (oil & gas wells), downstream (refining and marketing products) and chemical, the big RED FLAG was in the U.S. oil and gas sector.  According to Exxon’s Q1 2019 Earnings Release, the company invested $2.5 billion in CAPEX (capital expenditures) on its U.S. oil and gas wells, to earn a paltry $96 million in earnings:

Now, compare the miserable U.S. upstream earnings to Exxon’s International upstream earnings of $2.78 billion on $2.8 billion of capital expenditures.   ExxonMobil will likely invest close to $10 billion in CAPEX on just its U.S. upstream sector (spent over $5 billion of CAPEX past two quarters) this year, and if oil prices fall, it will impact their earnings quite negatively.

This next chart shows how much money Exxon is investing in its U.S. oil and gas sector each quarter:

We can see that Exxon ramped up capital expenditures in its U.S. oil and gas properties (mostly shale) significantly since the beginning of 2018.  Over the past year, the company has spent $8.8 billion to increase production by 77,000 barrels per day. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Shale Is In A Deep State Of Flux

Shale Is In A Deep State Of Flux

Chevron shale

Oil prices are rising to their highest level in months, with WTI having topped $60 per barrel, but the U.S. shale industry is still showing signs of strain.

“This is a cycle in our industry where only the large well-capitalized companies can grow. Small companies without access to capital are stagnant,” one oil executive in Texas said in response to a survey from the Dallas Federal Reserve. “It is a major industry readjustment period.”

The oil majors are scaling up their operations in the Permian basin, with ambitious plans to ratchet up output. ExxonMobil plans on hitting 1 million barrels per day (mb/d) by 2024 from the Permian, and Chevron hopes to reach 900,000 bpd. U.S. shale is more important than ever to their business plans.

But even as the role of shale is critical to the majors, small- and medium-sized E&Ps are struggling. Poor financial returns, loss of interest from investors, pressure to cut spending and return cash to shareholders, and encroachment from the majors are tightening the screws on smaller drillers. The “shrinkage in market capitalization of some companies is breathtaking. These loses translate into a loss of interest in further direct investments in the drilling of new oil and/or natural gas prospects,” another respondent said in the Dallas Fed survey.

A few other concerns seemed to dominate the thinking of Texas oil executives:

  • “Qualified young professionals are avoiding joining the oil and gas industry.”
  • “Pipeline constraints in the Permian Basin continue to cost us up to $20 per barrel and have a significant impact on capital expenditures. This cost changes month by month, making revenue estimation difficult.”
  • “Smaller independents are competing with a different animal that is too expensive to tame. Deep pockets for manufacturing oil and gas have taken over the patch here.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Oil Prices Spike On Shale Slowdown

Oil Prices Spike On Shale Slowdown

Shale tower

The collapse of oil prices late last year, along with pressure from shareholders, has led to a slowdown in the U.S. shale industry.

The EIA released new monthly data on March 29, which revealed a decline in output of about 90,000 bpd between December and January, evidence that shale drillers slammed on the breaks after oil prices fell off a cliff in the fourth quarter. The 90,000-bpd decline came after a rather meager 35,000-bpd increase the month before, which was the weakest increase in months.

But the U.S. shale industry is facing more headwinds than just a temporary dip in oil prices. Shareholders have run out of patience with unprofitable drilling, and are demanding returns, which is tightening the screws on less competitive companies and forcing spending cutbacks across the board. More worrying for the industry is a growing recognition of the “parent-child” well problem – the unexpected poor performance of subsequent wells drilled in close proximity to the original “parent” well.

These obstacles are beginning to pile up. Schlumberger and Halliburton, the two top oilfield services companies, have predicted that shale drillers will be forced to collectively cut spending by more than 10 percent this year.

The slowdown could put some bullish pressure on the oil market, already suffering from outages in Venezuela, Iran and coordinated cuts from OPEC+. While U.S. inventories rose unexpectedly last week, much of the increase can be chalked up to turmoil in the Houston Ship Channel following a major fire at a petrochemical facility.

Indeed, some analysts see significant stock declines in the next few weeks. “The most visible inventory levels in the world…will fall victim to a potent mix of Venezuelan supply disruptions, a Houston Ship Channel chemical spill, and an uptick in refining runs,” Barclays wrote in a note on March 29. The investment bank sees WTI rising to an average of $65 per barrel this year. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

THE BLOODBATH IN U.S. SHALE STOCKS CONTINUES: Worst Is Yet To Come

THE BLOODBATH IN U.S. SHALE STOCKS CONTINUES: Worst Is Yet To Come

Have you noticed the absolute carnage taking place in the U.S. shale oil stocks?  It seems as if Wall Street and investors are finally growing weary of an industry that hasn’t made money in the past decade.  Unfortunately, it took a longer than I expected, but the shale stocks have significantly underperformed the price action by the major oil companies.  Now, when I say, “underperformed,” wait until you see the numbers.

Of course, the bloodbath taking place in U.S. shale stocks shouldn’t be a surprise as the WARNING SIGNS have been many.  For example, this  article back in February, Wall Street Loses Faith In Shale, stated the following:

To Wall Street, the shale industry has lost a lot of its allure. A decade’s worth of promises have failed to materialize, and Big Finance is cutting some of its ties with smaller shale drillers who have not delivered.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the shale industry only saw $22 billion in new bond and equity deals, down by more than half from 2016 levels, which was a much worse time for the market.

The steep decline in new debt and equity issuance is a sign that major investors are no longer rushing to finance unprofitable shale drilling. It’s worth noting that this is a new development. For years Wall Street financed unprofitable drilling, holding out on the promise that rapid production growth would eventually pay off.

So, it seems as if investors are no longer willing to finance the U.S. Shale Oil Industry Black Hole.  And why should they?  One of the largest shale players in the Permian, Pioneer Resources, suffered its eighth consecutive year of negative free cash flow.  In 2018, Pioneer spent $541 million more on capital expenditures than it made from cash from operations and if we add up all the eight years, it’s a grand total of $6.8 billion in negative free cash flow.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Be Wary Of Unrealistic Shale Growth Expectations

Be Wary Of Unrealistic Shale Growth Expectations

shale drillers

U.S. shale drillers are facing a serious problem: Their wells are not producing as much oil and gas as they had anticipated.

When facing shareholder scrutiny, shale drillers have countlessly hyped the litany of technological breakthroughs, efficiency gains and innovative drilling techniques. Indeed, production from U.S. E&Ps has skyrocketed over the past decade, save for interruption during the 2014-2016 bust. But even then, shale executives argued that the downturn made them lean and mean, and that they would use their newfound frugality to ramp up production and profits.

But the hype has slammed into reality on a few fronts. First, after years of bankrolling the shale industry in hopes of juicy profits, Wall Street is starting to lose patience. Some companies turn a profit, but the industry on the whole has been losing money since its inception in the mid-2000s. Executives are once again promising that enormous profits are just around the corner, but you could forgive the skeptics for questioning whether that will turn out to be the case.

A second – and no less damning – development is starting to occur on the operational side of things. Shale companies are finding that the returns on pushing their drilling practices to evermore intense frontiers are beginning to fizzle. For years, drillers increased the length of their laterals, injected more and more sand and water underground, and packed wells closer and closer together. These techniques of intensification promised to produce more oil and gas for less money. Related: The Winners And Losers Of The Latest Commodity Rally

Suddenly, there is evidence that the industry is running into a wall. The Wall Street Journal reported that shale wells placed too close together are starting to report unexpectedly disappointing results. The thinking is that the wells are interfering with each other.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Shale Companies In Turmoil As Newer Wells “Drink Their Milkshake”

Shale Companies In Turmoil As Newer Wells “Drink Their Milkshake”

US shale companies’ decision to drill thousands of new wells closely together – and close to already existing wells – is turning out to be a bust; worse, this approach is hurting the performance of wells already in existence, posing an even greater threat to the already struggling industry. In order to keep the United States as an energy supplying powerhouse, shale companies have pitched bunching wells in close proximity, hoping they would produce as much as older ones, allowing companies to extract more oil overall while maintaining good results from each well.



These types of predictions helped fuel investor interest in shale companies, who raised nearly $57 billion from equity and debt financing in 2016 – up from $34 billion five years earlier, when oil was over $110 per barrel. In 2016, oil prices dipped below $30 a barrel at one point.

And now – surprise – the actual results from these wells are finally coming in and they are quite disappointing.

Newer wells that have been set up near older wells were found to pump less oil and gas, and engineers warn that these new wells could produce as much as 50% less in some circumstances. This is not what investors – who contributed to the billions in capital used by these companies back in 2016 – want to hear.

Making matters worse, newer wells often interfere with the output of older wells because creating too many holes in dense rock formations can damage nearby wells and make it harder for oil to seep out. The “child” wells could also cause permanent damage to older “parent” wells. This is known in the industry as the “parent-child” well problem.  Billionaire Harold Hamm, who founded shale driller Continental Resources, said last year: “Shale producers across the country are finding you can get a lot of interference, one well to the other. Laying out a whole lot of wells can get you in trouble.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fracking the World: Despite Climate Risks, Fracking Is Going Global

Fracking the World: Despite Climate Risks, Fracking Is Going Global

'Fracking: it's happening' sign overlaid on a view of Earth from space

The U.S. exported a record 3.6 million barrels per day of oil in February. This oil is the result of the American fracking boom — and as a report from Oil Change International recently noted — its continued growth is undermining global efforts to limit climate change. The Energy Information Administration predicts U.S. oil production will increase again in 2019 to record levels, largely driven by fracking in the Permian shale in Texas and New Mexico.

And the U.S. is not alone in trying to maximize oil and gas production. Despite the financial failures of the U.S. fracking industry, international efforts to duplicate the American fracking story are ramping up across the globe. 

The CEO of Saudi Arabian state oil company Aramco recently dismissed the idea that global demand for oil will decrease anytime soon and urged the oil industry to “push back on exaggerated theories like peak oil demand.”

But Saudi Aramco also is gearing up for a shopping spree of natural gas assets, including big investments in the U.S., and increasing gas production via fracking in its own shale fields. Aramco is deeply invested in keeping the world hungry for more oil and gas.

Khalid al Falih, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, told the Financial Times, “Going forward the world is going to be Saudi Aramco’s playground.” But not if other countries frack there first.

China Expanding Fracking Efforts, Testing New Technology

As a major importer of oil and natural gas, it is no surprise that China is trying to exploit its own shale formations, which are rich with oil and gas. China is estimated to have the largest shale gas reserves of any country. However, China’s shale formations present different challenges than those in the U.S., including gas deposits at significantly greater depths.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Bakken Hit A New Record In 2018, But It’s A Bad Sign For The Industry

The Bakken Hit A New Record In 2018, But It’s A Bad Sign For The Industry

The insanity continues in the United States second largest shale oil field as the fundamental economics go from bad to worse.  While it is true that the shale industry doesn’t look as dire as it did back in 2016 when oil prices fell off a cliff, I can assure you the worst is yet to come.  Unfortunately, the market is blind to the biggest Ponzi Scheme in history, because wisdom and reason have disappeared from the energy industry years ago.

How can I say that?  Well, I heard it from several oilmen that worked in the conventional oil industry… an industry that made good money, paid its bills, and didn’t go much into debt.  They told me that the only way shale oil could work is if the company went public so it could raise money from some poor unworthy slobs they didn’t know in order to fund an uneconomic business model.  These oilmen told me none of them would be crazy or stupid enough to go into the shale oil business.  As veteran oil analyst Art Berman stated, “Why on earth would anyone want to invest in shale to at best, breakeven?”

So, the shale oil saga continues as the blind lead the blind.  I know this because I have been fortunate enough to speak with someone in the shale industry and I continue to receive updates on just how bad the situation is unfolding.  Sounds crazy, but there are a few very smart and clever people that know the disaster taking place in the shale industry, but not many.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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