As Oil Prices Drop And Money Dries Up, Is The U.S. Shale Boom Going Bust?
All right the S. and P. Five hundred hit another record high. This week it's up almost twenty five percent for the year but but the SMP's index of oil and gas stocks. This is down more than twenty percent. It's a sign of trouble for this country's oil industry Darius Roffe on has the story some of the most successful companies in the oil business business are household names thing Exxon Mobil or Chevron but the boom in shale drilling that has helped turn the US into the world's largest oil producer that that has been driven by smaller independent operators companies that have pushed the limits of drilling technology and taking big risks on unproven oilfields today day shale accounts for about two-thirds of US oil production and nearly all of the industry's growth but many of the companies that made that growth possible are now struggling to stay stay afloat. David Dacko bomb analyst at Investment Bank. Callan says that has a lot to do with the business model of US shale. This isn't industry. The you know for every dollar that they brought in they would spend two for years. Operators focused on drilling lots of new wells very fast prioritizing explosive growth over profitability. And until now now they've been able to rely on deep pocket. Investors who are willing to pour fresh capital into the industry despite years of lackluster returns. It's a story that may be familiar to anyone. He's been following the tech industry in recent years. Dekel bomb compares it to a kind of prospector mentality. There's a lot of romance I think. Because there's always this idea of this this brand's new play. That's going to have billions of barrels of upside. And if you know you can just get in early than it will pay off in the long run. Of course oil has always been a boom and bust I industry in two thousand fourteen for instance a catastrophic price crash left the industry reeling but even then billions in new investment flowed into US shale today today shrinking global demand for oil is driving the price down once again. What's different this time around? Investors no longer seem willing to write the industry a blank check. I think now. Oh you've seen a lot of pressure of we want you to be a real business. Your cost structure is too high. You have too much that I'm not funding. You're drilling anymore with external capital. You have to live within your means without access to fresh cash. Many producers are pulling back on new exploration. The number of rigs drilling for new oil is at its lowest point in two years. That's bad news is for people like Ron Fountain who works on a drilling rig. In the Balkan Shale of North Dakota. He thinks back to a few years ago when the price of oil was over. One hundred dollars a barrel and companies. These were drilling with abandon. That's when we were still booming. There was rigs coming out every month. We couldn't keep up. There were so many so much work going on today. Though with more and more rigs sitting idle life has become uncertain for fountain and his fellow. Drillers we went from having you know three year contracts to well to well contracts which means you drill one hole and if you did a good job then they'll give you another one or may drop you and we gotta figure it out from there and he's not the only one feeling. The Pinch Halliburton one of the biggest players in. US shale drilling has laid off nearly three thousand workers in the Permian Basin. The country's trees most prolific oilfield employment has almost completely stalled out. That's after going more than eleven percent last year. Meanwhile many of the smaller producers who loaded up on debt are struggling to pay it back leading to a wave of bankruptcies more than three dozen so far this year all of this adding up to slower oil output data from the department energy shows that production was flat in the first half of twenty nineteen after growing more than twenty percent last year in theory as production slows and supply shrinks. The price royal should go back up which could provide a much-needed boost. The question. Says Ron Fountain is how many companies will be able to survive. Until then I think as an industry we're we're GONNA be okay but I think there's a lot of people That are kind of holding their breath.