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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Is the U.S. Shale Boom Over, or Just On Hold?

From The Fuse:
U.S. oil production has received a lot of attention lately for stalling out and beginning to decline, but the U.S. shale gas revolution also appears to have slowed down, at least for now. It’s far from over: New sources of demand and improved drilling efficiency will mitigate damage to the industry in the medium term, but for now, the shale gas industry appears to be experiencing a painful adjustment that is impacting both company balance sheets as well as U.S. production as a whole. 
Years before the boom in shale oil production, drillers were extracting massive volumes of natural gas by fracturing shale. As a result, U.S. natural gas production surged by more than 40 percent between 2006 and 2015, making the country the world’s largest producer. 
The dramatic rise in shale gas production caused prices to crash. Henry Hub spot prices for natural gas routinely traded above $6 per million Btu (MMBtu) in the years preceding the shale boom, but since early 2010, natural gas prices have remained below $5/MMBtu and are now trading at just $2.5/MMBtu. 
The flood of shale gas has been a huge boon for consumers, contributing to a petrochemical and manufacturing revival, but the resulting price drop has been bad for gas drillers. The rig count began falling in 2011, and continues to this day.
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