Category Archives: Shale Oil

West Texas Oil Production More Stable Than Saudi Arabia?

PumpingRigWTexas Pumping Rig In West Texas

Introduction…Oil production increasing in west Texas Permian Basin,  the largest U.S. shale-oil region, as the  Bakken and Eagle Ford are experiencing production declines.

West Texas two-lane county roads are congested with trucks as energy companies are searching for deals even though the oil markets are in the worst condition of decades.

On October 26, 2015 we reported (http://oilandgasinsider.com/?p=449) a Chinese investment holding company signed a letter of intent to purchase West Texas oil fields in Howard and Borden Counties for $1.3 billion.

Companies like Exxon Mobile, Corp. to Anadarko Petroleum Corp. have also searched for assets in this region the size of Syria.  Exxon purchased 48,000 acres in two deals in August and is reportedly looking for additional acquisitions.

“We’re already seeing companies targeting the Permian,” said Alen Gilmer, chief executive officer of Austin-based Drilling Info.  “If you were to look for the most stable area today to do anything, it’s going to be there.  Today you might even argue it’s more stable than Saudia Arabia.”

In summary…Oil production in the Permian is forecasted by the  EIA to rise 0.6% in December to 2.02 million barrels a day evan as drillers idled 59 percent of rigs.  The rival shale fields, the Bakken and Eagle Ford, have fallen 12 percent and 25 per cent respectively.

Source: “Oil Producers Hungary for Deals Drool Over West Texas Tiramisu,” BloombergBusiness by Dan Wethe, November 15, 2015.

It’s Not A Matter If Oil Prices Will Head Upwards, But When

US Shale Oil Boom…

Looking solely at US Shale Oil production since 2007, it is no wonder that OPEC was caught off-guard by the pace of Shale Oil production growth. Production grew from just over a million barrels per day in 2007 to around 5.5 mmbbls/day at its peak earlier in April this year.

U.S. Shale Oil Production

US Shale Supply To Decline…

Shale production decline is a reality. Overall decline rates in the Bakken Shale are around 50%, Eagleford Shale 55% and the Permian is around 25% and the US rig-count has now fallen by over a half. So why have we not witnessed anything yet?

Well the answer to that is a mixed and somewhat cloudy one. Delays in completing some wells are clouding the decline picture as are delays in actual hard production data. The answer to the delays in both cases is around 4 months. We have to wait around 4 months to get the actual data for what is happening now, and quite often wells are not completed until some 4 months after they have been spudded.

Some have asked why oil companies in the US have not colluded to shut-in production and wait for higher prices. The simple answer, many smaller oil companies must continue producing to keep paying-off the loans that financed the well in the first place. A fact that the banks and bond-holders that have financed some of the more risky ventures are about to find out to their cost.

Iranian Crude Supply Fears Are Misdirected…

Despite the worries of extra supply coming back onto the table from Iran, perhaps as early as November, the expectations are perhaps a little exaggerated. Indeed Iran may have millions of barrels in storage ready to supply the market. However, as for immediate production abilities, that will take a little longer. Any production that Iran has shut-in over a long-period of time will take perhaps as much as 18 months to get back to full-swing. Beyond this, it is unlikely Iran will be able to increase its oil production much higher than 3.5 mmbbls/day without the aid of Western technology and know-how.

Worldwide Demand Trend Upwards…

Oil demand has resurged anew with the oil price currently below $50/bbl for both WTI and Brent. The IEA has had to revise its demand figures upwards again for this year and next with its forecast of 1.6 mmbbls/day growth this year. In fact, the underlying rate of demand growth is at just over 1.4 mmbbls/day year on year.

More recently, evidence of what exactly the low-oil-price-scenario has done for the world economy can be seen in the latest GDP releases. US GDP was reported at 3.7% last week, much higher than analysts were expecting. World GDP is likely to be above 3% this year and is forecast above 3% next year and into 2018, according to the World Bank group.

World Oil Supply vs. Demand

In conclusion…

As the commodities expert, Jim Rogers said last week, “The cure for low prices is low prices.” The decline in supply and the rise in demand is happening right now. It’s not a matter of if the oil price will head back upwards, but when?

Sources: Opinion: Why The Crude Oil Doom-Merchants Have Got It All Wrong, Oil Pro by Andy Douglas, September 3, 2015: Oil To Drop Again Before Sanity Can Return, Oil & Energy Insider by Evan Kelly, September 4, 2015

Oil Pricing Heads To Bear Market?

Screenshot 2015-07-26 13.19.42Crude oil slipped back into a bear market Thursday, disappointing U.S. shale drillers that pinned their hopes on higher prices.

West Texas Intermediate, the benchmark U.S. contract, tumbled 22 per cent since June 10 to US$48.14 a barrel on Friday, erasing more than US$100 billion in market value from the companies in the Bloomberg Intelligence North America Independent Explorers and Producers Index.

Crude oil pricing are down roughly 55% from their peak of nearly $107 in June of last year and have lost about 27% from the $66.15 low in November, which at the time was the lowest settlement in 5 years

Crude’s recovery fizzled amid a worldwide glut that shows little sign of abating. U.S. production remains near the highest level in four decades, output from Saudi Arabia and Iraq surged to record levels, and Iran is focused on resuming exports after reaching a nuclear agreement with world powers.

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the oil patch.”   Phil Flynn, senior market analyst for Price Futures Group Inc., said by phone from Chicago.   “The bear market is definitely putting another round of fear into the shale patch and the bankers of the shale patch.”

Source: “Oil reverts back to bear market, erasing more than US$100 billion for shale drillers,” Financial Post, Asjylyn Loder and Dan Murtaugh, Bloomberg News | July 24, 2015; “It’s bad-news bear market for crude oil,”  Market Watch by Myra P. Saefong, July 24, 2015; “Sudden Drop in Crude-Oil Prices Roils U.S. Energy Firms, Major job cuts, asset sales are expected: layoffs texted to engineers and scientists,” Wall Street Journal by Lynn Cook, July 26. 2015

U.S. Oil Production At 45-Year High

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 5.38.12 PMBig Dog Drilling Rig

U.S. oil production has peaked…at least for now.

“Even if production growth comes to a halt, it comes in at higher level than analysts expected earlier this year,”  said Jim Burkhard, head of global market research for IHS.

Despite the slowdown in U.S. oil patch, producers are expected to pump more oil in 2015 than in 45 years.  Expected average production is 9.5 million barrels per this year.  This equals about 40,000 more barrels per day than the EIA projected last month.

The domestic benchmark is expected to average $55 per barrel the rest of the year, which still allows the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Niobara, and Permian Basins to remain economically viable to support development and drilling.  The rigs and wells are becoming more efficient and productive, and the cost to drill and complete continue to fall allowing onshore drilling to grow again in 2016.

The EIA expects oil prices at $62 per barrel next year.

Sources: “EIA Confirms: Oil Production Peaked,” By Nick Cunningham, Oil Price.com, July 12, 2015; “U.S. oil output still barreling toward 45-year record,” by Rhiannon Meyers, Houston Chronicle, July 7, 2015;

Shale Producers Not Bowing To OPEC

Gualalupe Pass Drilling Rig

Introduction…Even though our President has chosen to bow to foreign dignitaries, so far our U.S. shale producers have not bowed to OPEC.

Saudi Arabia’s attack… When Saudi Arabia launched a global oil-price war last year, many assumed that America’s high-cost shale producers would be the first to retreat.

American companies were quick to idle drilling rigs and lay off workers, but U.S. onshore oil production has gone up since last fall, not down.

As oil minister from OPEC counties met last week, they were grappling with the fact that the world’s new swing producer is different animal from traditional competition.

The new swing producers…Shale producers have more in common with technology start-ups in Silicon Valley than big, often state-controlled, integrated oil companies that dominate the global oil markets.  They are much smaller, more nimble, take more risks and are more tied to the ebb and flow of the capital markets.

One consultant who often speaks with Saudi officials says, “they were surprised at how fast oil prices fell and how resilient shale producers were.”

U.S. Producers are different…In an industry dominated by behemoths, the U.S. oil industry stands out due to fragmentation.  It takes 77 companies to generate 77% of the American crude oil and related liquids.  Combined, this is more production than the world’s 20 largest producers, according to Rystad Energy, a consulting firm.  Only Canada and the U.K. are similarly fragmented.

In contrast, in Russia there are four companies, China three, Brazil one.  In Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mexico, and Kuwait, one state owned company controls 100% of total output.

In conclusion...If you think big government controlled companies are the best way to produce crude oil, then most of the Middle East, Russia,  and China agree.  On the other hand, if you think free enterprise and the American Spirit is the best way to produce crude oil, then Texas, U.S., Canada, and U.K. would agree with you.

If you are inclined to venture into projects that produce current cash flow as compared to future capital gains, drop me a note.
Sources: “Shale Upends OPEC Bloc Party,” Wall Street Journal by Greg Ip. Saefong, June 4, 2015

Why U.S. Oil Production Hasn’t Declined

H&P Drilling Rig Midland, TXMidland, Texas Drilling Rig

Introduction…Oil prices drop below the floor at the $50 per barrel has caught some by surprise.  The reason has been that the lower prices haven’t translated into lower production yet as was expected last fall.

 

Drilling Rig Count Dropping…We have 684 fewer drilling rigs operating in the U.S. on March 13th as compared to a year ago.  The primary reason for the failure of production to decline is the average oil rig has become much more efficient, enabling drillers to produce more with less. That meant that the most inefficient rigs were taken off the market first. Also, exploration companies, especially ones with cash flow problems, kept up drilling to keep the money rolling in, even if they were selling oil for half of what they were last year.

 

Some Shale Production To Decline…The Eagle Ford in South Texas, the Niobrara in Colorado, and the Bakken in North Dakota are expected to see their combined production fall by 24,000 barrels per day in April. However, the offset is the Permian basin in West Texas is projected to see more than a 21,000 barrel-per-day increase in April, offsetting the declines elsewhere. This means that overall U.S. output probably won’t drop off quite yet.

 

In conclusion…Meanwhile, oil prices are in freefall once again, falling to fresh lows. WTI is flirting with the possibility of dipping below the $40-per-barrel level, which will bring worse panic to the sector. In a sign that the pain is mounting, Quicksilver Resources, a Texas-based oil and gas company, announced on March 17 that it has declared bankruptcy.
Until we see stability in oil pricing, it’s difficult to price new drilling programs.  While we are waiting, we see other projects with significant cash flow available.  Let me know what you interest level may be if any.

 

Sources: “Is US Oil Production Finally About To Fall?” OilPrice.com, Charles Kennedy, March 18, 2105

 

The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 3.50.00 PM

Introduction…Well, not all of the Russians are comping to Texas. But, one Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich, who just invested $15 million in new fracking technology is here.  So, why would Abramovich invest in technology after Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, denounced it publicly?

Previous Anti-Frackers?...When the anti-fracking campaign started to heat up late last year in Denton, Texas—the heart of the shale revolution—conspiracy theories were spread within the pro-fracking community that the Russians were behind the whole thing. <!–There’s more!–>The logic was that the American shale revolution threatened Russia’s market share.  In a recent press conference Putin became visibly angry when the question of Fracking was asked as to its impact on Russia.

Clean Plasma Fracking Technology… Roman Abramovich has invested $15 million in Houston-based Propell Technologies Group, Inc. (OTC:PROP) and its new fracking technology from wholly owned subsidiary Novas Energy. Significantly, this new enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technology enables ‘clean’ hydraulic micro/nano fracturing of oil reservoirs—that is, without water, without polluting chemicals and without earthquakes.

According to Propell, the Plasma Pulse patented downhole tool creates a controlled plasma arc within a vertical well, generating a tremendous amount of heat for a fraction of a second. The subsequent high-speed hydraulic impulse wave emitted is strong enough to remove any clogged sedimentation from the perforation zone without damaging steel. The series of impulse waves/vibrations also penetrate deep into the reservoir causing nano fractures in the matrix which increase reservoir permeability for up to a year per treatment.

It may or may not be a coincidence that Propell’s Plasma Pulse Technology is licensed from Novas Energy, a venture capital-backed Russian energy technology company.

There is also another Russian element to this: PPT has been very successfully employed in Russian injector wells. This is perhaps the most significant aspect to consider. Russia does not have draconian fracking regulations pressuring companies to use environmentally friendly technology. Instead, they are using PPT to improve enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and reduce production costs.

Where Is Abramovich Going With This Investment?… This will not merely be a $15 million investment,” said one source close to the deal. “You have to read between the lines here. Abramovich doesn’t do anything small. He’ll get the infrastructure in place and then look to acquire a significant position in the US oil sector at today’s fire sale prices. We’ll probably be looking at hundreds of millions in investment at the end of the day.”

I n Conclusion...What an irony that a Russian billionaire is investing in clean Fracking technology that started in Texas?  We have already seen Chinese money move into Texas oil patch.  This very well could mean we will see more Russian money coming to Texas.

P.S.  While the Putin was apposed to U.S. Fracking, it could be another Russian who helps remove the environmental concerns over Fracking.
Sources: “Roman Abramovich Invests $15M In New US Fracking Technology,” OilPrice.com by By James Stafford, February 24, 2015