As the shale industry matures, the biggest oil and gas producers, with their efficiencies and lower cost of capital, are moving in.
When extraction of oil and gas from shale deposits took off a dozen years ago. It sparked a revolution that enabled the U.S. to become a global mega-producer of fossil fuels due to technological breakthroughs in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Now, energy analysts say, the guard is changing as shale production matures and the capital requirements to maintain production intensify.
Shale now accounts for 10% of worldwide crude oil and 32% of global natural gas that is currently recoverable, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. West Texas’s Permian Basin is the second largest oil field in the world, behind Saudi Arabia’s giant Ghawar field. That makes the Permian the dynamic center of oil and gas extraction in the U.S., and the place where this latest chapter of the energy saga is being written.
Sold Out To The Oil-And-Gas Majors
In a series of major deals last fall, some of the pioneers of shale production in the region sold out to the oil-and-gas majors, greatly consolidating the U.S. industry. Highlighting the trend were Exxon Mobil’s $60 billion purchase of Pioneer Natural Resources in October and Occidental Petroleum’s $10.8 billion deal to buy CrownRock in December. Oil and gas deals totaled more than $250 billion last year, the largest figure in nearly 10 years.
These deals are big, and expensive—Oxy is paying some $5 million per location for CrownRock’s assets, which Andrew Dittmar, a director at Enverus Intelligence Research, described a “nose-bleed territory”—but are unlikely to move the needle on global oil prices more than marginally. Their real importance, analysts say, is in what they signal about shale production in the Permian over the remainder of the decade.
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Source: Global Finance
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