It appears that Horseman Global’s Russell Clark may have been spot on with his bearish take on the US shale sector.
As a reminder, in his latest letter to investors, Clark said that “the rising decline rates of major US shale basins, and the increasing incidents of frac hits (also a cause of rising decline rates) have convinced me that US shale producers are not only losing competitiveness against other oil drillers, but they will find it hard to make money…. at some point debt investors start to worry that they will not get their capital back and cut lending to the industry. Even a small reduction in capital, would likely lead to a steep fall in US oil production. If new drilling stopped today, daily US oil production would fall by 350 thousand barrels a day over the next month.”
What I also find extraordinary, is that it seems to me shale drilling is a very unprofitable industry, and becoming more so. And yet, many businesses in the US have expended large amounts of capital on the basis that US oil will always be cheap and plentiful. I am thinking of pipelines, refineries, LNG exporters, chemical plants to name the most obvious. Even more amazing is that other oil sources have become more cost competitive but have been starved of resources. If US oil production declines, the rest of the world will struggle to increase output. An oil squeeze looks more likely to me.
While the bearish thesis has yet to play out, moments ago Anadarko poured cold water on US energy investors after it missed earnings badly, reporting a Q2 EPS loss of 77c, more than double the 33 cent loss expected. However, what was far more concerning to shale bulls (and perhaps oil bears), is that the company admitted that it can no longer support its capital spending budget, and it would cut its 2017 capital budget by $300 million, becoming the first major U. S. oil producer to do so, as a result of depressed oil prices. In March, Anadarko had forecast total 2017 capex of $4.5 billion to $4.7 billion, a continuation of the recent CapEx rebound which troughed in Q3 2016.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 24, 2017.