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From Boom To Bust: Permian Shale Towns Face Exodus

From Boom To Bust: Permian Shale Towns Face Exodus

Ghost town

Perhaps it’s not evident to anyone who is not an oil-worker living in America’s biggest shale towns, but signs of the shale slowdown predicted by many analysts, and the EIA itself, are already surfacing in the form of vacant hotels, a dip in home prices, a noticeable reduction in overtime hours for oil workers, and a change in standards for hiring. 

Texas’ Permian basin lost 400 jobs in the first 10 months of this year, according to the Dallas Morning News, and fracking contractor Superior Energy Services Inc. alone announced in late November that it had cut 112 jobs from its Permian Pumpco unit. 

This is in stark contrast to the first 10 months of 2018, when the Permian added 16,700 jobs. 

According to the Dallas Federal Reserve’s “Permian Basin Economic Indicators” from November 27 this year, oil production reached a new high in September, though the rig count slipped and drilling has dropped to its lowest level in nearly two years. 

Not only are frack crews for well completions in the Permian down more than 20% this year, according to the Dallas Morning News, citing Primary Vision Inc., but oilfield services companies are firing people–from National Oilwell Varco to Halliburton and RPC. 

The Greater Houston Partnership said in a December report that Houston is facing a situation that is “eerily similar to what it faced after the 1980s bust — an oversaturated real estate market, a bleak outlook for oil and gas, and the need for innovation to drive the economy forward”. 

To that end, it’s putting its hope in other industries–not oil and gas–as it forecasts the disappearance of 4,000 oil jobs by the end of 2020. 

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

The Drilling Frenzy Is Over For U.S. Shale

The Drilling Frenzy Is Over For U.S. Shale

Shale Boom

A few high-profile shale executives say the glory days of shale drilling are over.

In a round of earnings calls, the financial results were mixed. A few companies beat earnings estimates, while others fell dramatically short.

But aside from the individual performances, there were some more newsworthy comments from executives on the state of the industry. A common theme emerged from several notable shale executives: the growth frenzy is coming to an end.

The chief executive of Pioneer Natural Resources, Scott Sheffield, said that the Permian basin is “going to slow down significantly over the next several years,” and he noted on the company’s latest earnings call that the company is also acting with more restraint because of pressure from shareholders not to pursue unprofitable growth. “I’ve lowered my targets and my annual targets, a lot of it has to do with…to start with the free cash flow model that public independents are adopting,” Sheffield said.

But there are also operational problems that have become impossible to ignore for the industry. He listed several factors that explain the Permian slowdown: “the strained balance sheets lot of the companies have, the parent-child relationships that companies are having, people drilling a lot of Tier 2 acreage,” Sheffield said. “So I’m probably getting much more optimistic about 2021 to 2025 now in regard to oil price.” In other words, U.S. shale is slamming on the brakes, which may yet engineer a rebound in global oil prices.

He said that this would be good news for OPEC. “I don’t think OPEC has to worry that much more about U.S. shale growth long-term,” Sheffield said. “And all that is very beneficial. So we are probably going to be more careful in the years 2021 to 2025 because there’s not much coming on after the three big countries that are bringing on discoveries over the next 12 months Norway, Brazil and Guyana.”

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Secret Survey: U.S. Shale In A State Of ‘Deep Anxiety’

Secret Survey: U.S. Shale In A State Of ‘Deep Anxiety’

Shale Permian

The financial stress sweeping over the U.S. shale sector has led to a sharp contraction in activity.

Oil and gas activity in Texas and parts of New Mexico declined in the third quarter, with the Dallas Fed’s business activity index reporting a reading of -7.4, down from -0.6 in the second quarter. A negative reading signals contraction while a positive reading indicates expansion. Falling deeper into negative territory indicates that shale drillers in the Permian further cut drilling activity over the last three months.

A slowdown in drilling is an even larger problem for oilfield services companies, who provide the equipment, manpower and drilling services that oil companies need. A producer may be able to do more with less, but that “less” falls on the service providers, who have been hit hard. The Dallas Fed said that the business activity in the oilfield services sector fell to -21.8 in the third quarter, down from 6.6 in the second.

Another reading demonstrated the pain for oilfield services. The Dallas Fed’s “equipment utilization index” plunged to -24 from 3, and the figure for the third quarter was the lowest since the oil market’s nadir in 2016.

Problematic for shale drillers is that costs still grew, although at a much slower rate. The “input cost” index stood at 5.6 in the third quarter, an indication of slowing cost increases compared to the 27.1 reading in the second quarter. But the bad news for the industry is that the reading was still in positive territory.

Employment is also weakening. The employment index fell to -8.0 from -2.5, meaning that the Permian likely saw job losses for the second quarter in a row.

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

The Shale Boom Has Turned To Bust: Producers Slashing Budgets, Staff, & Production Goals

The Shale Boom Has Turned To Bust: Producers Slashing Budgets, Staff, & Production Goals

The collapse in the shale industry is continuing with no signs of stopping or even slowing down.

No sooner did we highlight how shale is doomed no matter what the industry does and how recent price movements have triggered chaos across the industry, than we find out that oil producers and their suppliers are now cutting budgets, staffs and production goals, according to Reuters

The U.S. now has 904 working rigs, which is down 14% from a year ago. Harold Hamm, chief executive of shale producer Continental Resources, still thinks this could be too many. 

Additionally, bankruptcy filings by U.S. energy producers through mid-August of this year have matched the total for all of 2018 already. Earl Reynolds, CEO of Chaparral Energy said:

“You’re going to see activity drop across the industry.”

His firm has slashed its workforce by about 25% and cut spending by about 5%. It has also agreed to sell its headquarters and use some of the proceeds to pay off debt. 

Cowen & Co. estimated last month that oil and gas producers deployed 56% of their total budgets through June and the firm expects total spending to fall 11% over last year. 

And one slowdown begets another: as drilling slows, oilfield services companies are also making staff and budget cuts. Some, like Schlumberger and Halliburton Co., are considering restructurings. For example, Schlumberger is planning a writedown this quarter and has said that its North American results have been “under significant pressure”. 

Halliburton, on the other hand, is reducing its North American workforce by 8% due to customer spending cuts. 

Superior Drilling Services CEO Troy Meier said: “The service sector I think is going to be flat.” His firm recently cancelled plans to add new machinery. 

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

Boris Johnson’s destruction of democracy is making it easier for the hard right to ruin our planet

Boris Johnson’s destruction of democracy is making it easier for the hard right to ruin our planet

The vision that Boris and his clique represent is plain (for some of us) to see. They appear to be unabashed authoritarians, and their grand scheme consists of austerity for the poor, welfare for the wealthy and marginalisation for minorities

The struggle in parliament is about far more than Brexit. It is about protecting the very heart of democracy itself from a dangerous authoritarian demagoguery that threatens the entire planet.

Boris Johnson’s regime seems to be openly at war with planet earth. When Green Party MP Caroline Lucas challenged the prime minister to distance Britain from Brazilian leader Bolsonaro due to his “acceleration” of the devastating fires in the Amazon, Boris refused to rule out a trade deal with Brazil. 

Johnson’s intransigence is no surprise. The parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee has warned that precisely due to the Conservative government’s own policies, Britain is on course to miss its own legally-binding target for net-zero emissions by 2050.

Meanwhile, industry trade body Oil and Gas UK has just called for oil and gas production to continue at maximum levels. British investment giant Schroders warns that such a scenario, if pursued worldwide, could lead global average temperatures to rise by as much as 8 degrees Celsius within 80 years – creating a catastrophically uninhabitable planet.

But Johnson’s government is, in my view, the least willing to take any action against climate change. Apart from Johnson himself, both his environment minister Theresa Villiers and his business secretary Andrea Leadsom have previously supported the ramping up of shale gas fracking.

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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.

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The Biggest Losers In The Shale Slowdown

The Biggest Losers In The Shale Slowdown


Schlumberger saw its debt rating downgraded by S&P due to the unfolding slowdown in drilling by U.S. shale companies.

The largest oilfield service company in the world has seen its earnings hit as the shale industry goes through a soft patch. S&P cut Schlumberger’s debt rating to A+, down from AA-. Meanwhile, Halliburton saw its outlook downgraded from “stable” to “negative.”

“Oilfield services companies will no longer be able to generate the high operating margins they did in 2014,” Carin Dehne-Kiley, an analyst at S&P, wrote in a report. “The oilfield services industry has fundamentally changed due to permanent efficiency and productivity gains realized by E&P companies as well as investor sentiment calling for E&P companies to live within cash flow and limit production growth.”

The sharp fall in oil prices late last year, which stretched into the first quarter of 2019, led to a rapid erosion in the U.S. rig count. The oil rig count fell by 5 to 797 for the week ending on May 24. The rebound in oil prices this year has not led to a corresponding bounce back in the rig count.

Shale companies have pulled back, making modest spending cuts amid the soft patch. Moreover, the U.S-China trade war may have killed off yet another rally, with gloom spreadingacross the industry. Another lengthy downturn would likely deepen the modest austerity measures implemented by shale producers, which would further weigh down the oilfield services sector.

Lower drilling activity translates into less interest in the variety of services that Schlumberger offers. A depressed market for equipment, labor and other services means that companies like Schlumberger have less leverage in pricing negotiations with oil producers. Several years on from the massive oil market bust in 2014, Schlumberger has been trying to claw back the steep discounts it was forced to offer to producers. 

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

Trump Admin Accelerates Push to Export Fracking to Argentina

Trump Admin Accelerates Push to Export Fracking to Argentina

Rick Perry and energy ministers at G20 Summit in Argentina

The technology that has allowed for the shale gas revolution in America, we want to make available to Argentina,” Perry said.

At the summit, which was intended to focus on a transition to cleaner energy, Perry instead pledged the U.S. Department of Energy’s support in helping Argentina exploit its vast fossil fuel resources. Namely by connecting the nation with U.S.companies that know how to extract shale oil and gas via hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

But DOE isn’t the only part of the U.S. government facilitating fracking in Argentina. Under the Trump administration, the Departments of Interior and State — working closely with Pennsylvania State University — have been involved in multiple workshops focused on developing shale oil and gas in the South American nation.

Excited to join my fellow energy ministers at the . This is an exciting time for Argentina and the region. Argentina’s leadership in energy is good for our hemisphere and the world. pic.twitter.com/5X37kAEiXb

View image on Twitter

Argentina has the second largest shale gas reserves in the world, but is still a net energy importer. Working together, our countries can partner to deliver abundant, affordable energy to the Americas and the world.

The main target for fracking in Argentina is Vaca Muerta (translated as “Dead Cow”), one of the world’s largest unconventional oil and gas deposits, located in the Neuquén Basin. The oil and gas industry has been eyeing this formation in west-central Argentina since its existence was announced in 2011.

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No Surprises: Obama’s Fracking Rules Upset Everyone

No Surprises: Obama’s Fracking Rules Upset Everyone

The Obama administration’s new rules on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are being denounced by the energy industry as impeding a US oil renaissance and by environmental groups who call them too weak to be effective.

The Interior Department and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) drew up the rules for the technology used in extracting oil and gas from underground shale formations. Interior argues that they’re years overdue, and that they can be a guide for many states working to develop their own rules for the practice.

Fracking’s advantage is that it provides drillers with a new way to extract oil and gas that was previously inaccessible because it was locked deep underground in shale. It’s more expensive than conventional drilling, requiring injections of water mixed with chemicals to break up the rock.

Related: Three Reasons Why US Shale Isn’t Going Anywhere

Fracking could help the United States become the world’s largest producer of oil and gas, but it has also raised concerns that the chemicals – each drilling company has its own secret mix – could poison nearby groundwater supplies for both people and wildlife. As a result, states are struggling to develop their own rules to cover private and state-owned land, where most fracking is practiced.

The new federal rules will formally cover only federally owned land, where only about 10 percent of fracking occurs in the United States, according to the Interior Department. But it says it can help states address their own approach to fracking rules.


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Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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