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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…

Bethany McLean: Saudi America

Bethany McLean: Saudi America

The truth about fracking & how it’s changing the world by Adam TaggartFriday, March 1, 2019, 3:37 PM

For years now we’ve been covering the false promise of the American shale oil “miracle”.

Yes, it has extracted a lot more oil out of American soil that most thought possible. But at an economic loss. And at great environmental cost.

If the shale drilling companies can’t make any profit, either when oil prices are high or low — why are we still pursuing shale deposits so aggressively?

To shed further light on this paradox, this week we welcome journalist Bethany McLean to the program. McLean is editor-at-large at Fortune Magazine and a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and Slate magazines. She is also author of the excellent book: Saudi America: The Truth About Fracking And How It’s Changing The World.

McLean warns that the hype, the hucksterism, and the geological shortcomings of the deposits themselves, are setting up both investors and American society for tremendous disappointment:

The real catalyst of the shale revolution was the Great Financial Crisis and the era of unprecedentedly-low interest rates that followed.

And that had two effects. One was that it made debt cheap. So these companies that are heavily dependent on being able to raise capital could raise debt at low prices. And without that, I’m not sure there would’ve been a shale revolution because they needed such immense amounts of capital to fund their drilling.

But it had a second impact, which is that when pension funds were no longer able to earn a return in traditional fixed income markets, they’ve increasingly put their money into riskier assets like hedge funds that invest in credit and private equity firms. Those entities, in turn, have increasingly invested in shale.

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

Shale Growth Is Nearing An Inflection Point

Shale Growth Is Nearing An Inflection Point

Pioneer drilling

Drilling activity has plateaued in much of the U.S., with the rig count zig-zagging well below the peak from last November.

The rig count often rises and falls in response to oil prices, but on a several-month lag. It takes some time before oil companies make drilling decisions in response to major price movements. As such, the price meltdown in the fourth quarter of 2018 is still working its way through the system.

But the U.S. shale industry has already begun to tap the brakes. Total U.S. oil rigs are stood at 853 for the week ending on February 22, down from a peak of 888 in November. In particular, the Permian – often held up as the most profitable and prolific shale basin – has seen the rig count decline to a nine-month low.

Production continues to rise, to be sure, but the growth rate could soon flatten out. “We estimate that the y/y change in US oil drilling will, for the first time since 2016, turn negative by late May, should the current trend of gentle declines continue,” Standard Chartered analysts led by Paul Horsnell wrote in a note.

(Click to enlarge)

At the same time, oil prices are rising again, and are up roughly 25 percent since the start of the year. If WTI tops $60, many shale drillers could find themselves feeling confident all over again, and could pour money and rigs back into the field.

That said, multiple drillers have laid out more conservative and restrained drilling programs, facing pressure from shareholders not to overspend. According to Bloomberg and RS Energy Group, U.S. E&Ps have trimmed their spending plans by 4 percent on average, while at the same time they still expect production to grow by 7 percent.

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

EXXONMOBIL U.S. OIL & GAS FINANCIAL TRAIN-WRECK: Producing Shale Is Destroying Its Bottom Line

EXXONMOBIL U.S. OIL & GAS FINANCIAL TRAIN-WRECK: Producing Shale Is Destroying Its Bottom Line

The United States largest oil company, ExxonMobil, is facing a financial train-wreck in its domestic oil and gas sector.  And, the majority of the blame can be attributed to Exxon’s move into shale.  After Exxon acquired XTO Energy in 2009, a U.S. shale oil and gas producer, it has seriously begun to ramp up shale oil production in the Permian.

ExxonMobil plans on expanding Permian shale oil production to 600,000 barrels a day (bd) by 2025, up from the 115,000 bd as of October (thanks to the data from Shaleprofile.com).  If you look at the chart below, Exxon’s Permian shale oil production shot up from less than 50,000 bd at the beginning of 2018, to over 115,000 bd in October:

Exxon is now the largest player in the Permian, according to the article, Exxon Becomes Top Permian Driller to Combat Falling Oil Output:

Exxon Mobil Corp. has overtaken rivals to become the most active driller in the Permian Basin, showing the urgency with which the world’s biggest oil company by market value is pursuing U.S. shale.

Exxon’s escalation in the Permian is essentially a bet that it can drill wells so cheaply that they’ll be profitable despite crude’s tumble since early October. The company says its shale wells can make double-digit returns with oil at just $35 a barrel.

Exxon moved into the Permian to stem a decade of falling domestic U.S. oil production.  However, its statement that it will enjoy double-digit gains at a $35 oil price in the Permian may be more “delusional thinking” rather than company pragmatic optimism.  I spent some time looking over Exxon’s financial statements, and I have to say I was quite shocked by their utterly dismal 2018 U.S. oil and gas financials.

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

A Survival Guide For 2019

A Survival Guide For 2019

How to safely navigate the ‘Year Of Instability’ 

As the first month of the year concludes, it’s becoming clear that 2019 will be a very different kind of year.

The near-decade of ‘recovery’ following the Great Financial Crisis enjoyed a stability and tranquility that suddenly evaporated at the end of 2018.

Here in 2019, instability reigns.

The world’s central banks are absolutely panicking. After last year’s bursting of the Everything Bubble, their coordinated plans for Quantitative Tightening have been summarily thrown out the window. Suddenly, no chairman can prove himself too dovish.

Jerome Powell, the supposed hardliner among them, completely capitulated in the wake of the recent -15% tantrum in stocks, which, as Sven Henrich colorfully quipped, proved what we suspected all along:

The global tsunami of liquidity (i.e. thin-air money printing) released by the central banking cartel has been the defining trend of the past decade. It has driven, directly or indirectly, more world events than any other factor.

And one of its more notorious legacies is the massive disparity and wealth and income resulting from its favoring of the top 0.1% over everyone else. The mega-rich have seen their assets skyrocket in value, while the masses have been mercilessly squeezed between similarly rising costs of living and stagnant wages.

How have the tone-deaf politicians responded? With tax breaks for their Establishment masters and new taxes imposed on the public. As a result, populist ire is catching fire in an accelerating number of countries, which the authorities are anxious to suppress by all means to prevent it from conflagrating further — most visibly demonstrated right now by the French government’s increasingly jack-booted attempts to quash the Yellow Vest protests:

Meanwhile, two other principal drivers of the past decade’s ‘prosperity’ are also suddenly in jeopardy.

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

Has U.S. shale oil entered a death spiral?

Has U.S. shale oil entered a death spiral?

The bad news coming out of the shale oil fields of America could all be put down to slumping oil prices. That is certainly a big factor. But as investment professionals like to say, when the tide goes out, we all find out who’s been skinny-dipping.

The pattern of negative news from shale country is not just related to price, however. Oil production, it seems, is being overstated industry-wide by 10 percent and 50 percent in the case of some companies, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The CEO of one of the largest players in the industry, Continental Resources, predicted that growth in shale oil production could fall by 50 percent this year compared to last year. In reality, we should expect worse as the industry for obvious reasons tends to exaggerate its prospects.

The place where the damage to investors has become severe is in private equity firms who hold a large portion of the shale oil industry’s high-yield debt. The plan for the firms was always to unload the debt on somebody else when better opportunities presented themselves. But the firms overstayed their welcome and are having a hard time even finding a bid in the market for these bonds.

With the big Wall Street players now questioning the value of their existing investments in shale oil, the industry is finding it hard to raise money. Not a single bond sale has come off since November in an industry which must continuously raise capital to survive.

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

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