Aggressive oil industry cutbacks to counter falling prices is about to dramatically slow U.S. shale oil production — at least temporarily, according to a Bloomberg article Monday.
The Energy Information Administration said that North Dakota’s Bakken shale oil production and the output of other “prolific” tight-rock formations would drop to 57,000 barrels a day in May — the first expected drop in output since the agency began issuing monthly reports in 2013, Bloomberg said. Moreover, three investment banking firms have projected that U.S. oil production growth will end, at least temporarily, with futures near a six-year low.
“We’re going off an inevitable cliff” because of the shrinking rig counts, Carl Larry, head of oil and gas for Frost & Sullivan LP, told Bloomberg. “The question is how fast is the decline going to go. If it’s fast, if it’s steep, there could be a big jump in the market.”
At midday trading Monday, West Texas Intermediate crude for May delivery climbed $1.41, to $53.18 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices are down 50% from a year ago.
ConocoPhillips chief executive Ryan Lance told Bloomberg last week that as U.S. production begins to fall in the second half of the year, prices could go as high as $80 a barrel in the next three years.
“There is a supply response happening,” Lance said. “You don’t see it in the first half of the year because of the investments that we made over the last two years. The reductions in capital that the industry has made are substantial. That’s going to start to materialize in the back half of this year.”
However, as prices rebound, production should ramp back up, as U.S. drillers are building a backlog of drilled wells.
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