Frackers Are in Crisis, Endangering America's Energy Renaissance
Comment of the Day

July 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Frackers Are in Crisis, Endangering America's Energy Renaissance

This article by Bryan Gruley, Kevin Crowley, Rachel Adams-Heard and David Wethe for Bloomberg. Here is a section:

Texas oil people who’ve lived through past busts remain resolute. This spring the Railroad Commission of Texas, which regulates the oil industry, considered limiting crude production in the hope of bolstering prices amid the Saudi-Russia price war. Some Texans reacted with disdain. “Texas, out of all states, represents a humble, steadfast resolve that refuses to sacrifice its principles due to foreign influence,” David Dale, a Houston-area land manager for oil and gas producer Ovintiv Inc., wrote to the commission. Troy Eckard of Eckard Enterprises LLC in Allen, Texas, told regulators that Russia and Saudi Arabia are “terrorists” whose “game of supply hostage is not the time to bow down and sell out. Let the weak go broke. Let the overpaid, poorly run private equity-back[ed] companies fall by the wayside. Leave us to our own free-market solutions.” The commission stood pat.

As oil historian Daniel Yergin has observed, companies go bankrupt, rocks don’t. Assuming prices slowly recover, producers will begin to turn wells back on—a process that’s never been tried at this large a scale—and maybe drill some new ones. Whether they start paying pumpers better remains to be seen. Opportune LLP, a Houston energy advisory firm, says pumpers and other service companies face “a test of survivability, not profitability.” Consolidation seems likely, with producers themselves possibly acquiring the smaller service companies on the cheap.

Eoin Treacy's view

The initial surge in production from shale oil reserves was driven by wildcatters and the viability of the business model was predicated on high prices persisting. The reality that much of the USA’s shale production is higher cost is now leading to many of these companies going bankrupt or experiencing significant problems.

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