Why Is The Shale Industry Still Not Profitable?

“cash required per barrel” metric has been rising for several consecutive quarters, hitting an average $64 per barrel in the third quarter of 2017. That was a period of time in which WTI traded much lower, which essentially means that the average shale player was not profitable. Not everyone is posting poor figures. Diamondback Energy and Continental Resources had breakeven prices at about $52 and $37 per barrel in the third quarter, respectively, according to the Al Rajhi report. Parsley Energy, on the other hand, saw its “cash required per barrel” price rise to nearly $100 per barrel in the third quarter. A long list of shale companies have promised a more cautious approach this year, with an emphasis on profits. It remains to be seen if that will happen, especially given the recent run up in prices. But Al Rajhi questions whether spending cuts will even result in a better financial position.

“Even when capex declines, we are unlikely to see any sustained drop in cash flow required per barrel … due to the nature of shale production and rising interest expenses,”
the Al Rajhi report concluded. In other words, cutting spending only leads to lower production, and the resulting decline in revenues will offset the benefit of lower spending. All the while, interest payments need to be made, which could be on the rise if debt levels are climbing. One factor that has worked against some shale drillers is that the advantage of hedging future production has all but disappeared. In FY15 and FY16, the companies surveyed realized revenue gains on the order of $15 and $9 per barrel, respectively, by locking in future production at higher prices than what ended up prevailing in the market. But, that advantage has vanished. In the third quarter of 2017, the same companies only earned an extra $1 per barrel on average by hedging. Part of the reason for that is rising oil prices, as well as a flattening of the futures curve. Indeed, recently WTI and Brent have showed a strong trend toward backwardation — in which longer-dated prices trade lower than near-term. That makes it much less attractive to lock in future production. Al Rajhi Capital notes that more recently, shale companies ended up locking in hedges at prices that could end up being quite a bit lower than the market price, which could limit their upside exposure should prices continue to rise. In short, the report needs to be offered as a retort against aggressive forecasts for shale production growth. Drilling is clearly on the rise and U.S. oil production is expected to increase for the foreseeable future. But the lack of profitability remains a significant problem for the shale industry. By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com Source / Further information : Oilprice.com oilandgasOil and Gas News Undiluted !!! “The squeaky wheel gets the oil” Follow us: @OilAndGasPress on Twitter | OilAndGasPress on Facebook ]]>

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