Will shale oil survive the price fall?


American shale oil enterprise WBH Energy filed for bankruptcy ro January 4, 2015. This could be the beginning of a shakeout of shale oil enterprises. Since 2010, the debt of America’s energy enterprises has increased 55 percent; meanwhile, the energy sector of S&P 1500 index has dropped rapidly. The shale oil revolution has not only been stricken by the low oil price, but also “abandoned” by investors. As liquidity runs short, small and medium-sized shale oil enterprises will either go bankrupt or be taken over if they survive the oil price crisis.

American shale oil

The reason for the oil price slump is becoming clearer: oversupply. However, since oil producers will not reduce output, the downward trend continues. Canadian heavy crude has dropped below 35 USD, a new low since February 2009. In the past six months, the price has fallen by 60 percent. We can say that the shale oil revolution is being blocked by the low oil price – in other words, it is being hindered by OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), principally represented by Saudi Arabia. When the oil price dropped below 50 USD, OPEC had a meeting seeking consensus on maintaining oil output. The average production cost of OPEC is about 40 USD, while the cost of shale oil is above 60 USD. As long as the price is above 40 USD, OPEC can still make profit, but the shale oil enterprises will be squeezed out. At the end of 2014, in order to exploit the market for US oil producers, the US Department of Commerce lifted the ban on the export of condensate oil. The US has ended its 40-year oil export ban to join in competition with the other oil producers, which means that on the one hand the US has become an international oil producer, while on the other hand shale oil has had a huge impact on the world energy structure, and the world oil market has excess production capacity. For the US, shale oil has provided a new economic growth point and provided additional chips when competing with other oil producing countries. Therefore, the US government will offer necessary supports to shale oil enterprises. However, the market cannot be easily manipulated by one or two countries. The US wanted a moderate drop in the oil price, which would stimulate its economy as well as “fix” those insubordinate oil producing countries. But the downward trend of the oil price has been irresistible, and now threatens the survival of the American shale oil industry. Faced with the falling oil price, shale oil enterprises, with their relatively high production costs, have entered a crucial phase of life and death. Unless all the oil producing countries join hands to limit production and achieve a rebalancing of supply and demand, the oil price will not rebound in the short term. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries blame the oil price crisis on the irresponsible behavior of non-OPEC oil producing countries, which in fact targets the shale oil producers. The new energy industry is suffering under the impact of the falling oil price too. The stock price of electric vehicle producer Tesla is also in a slump. But for the shale oil enterprises, this is an issue of life or death. – (People’s Daily Online) Related posts:

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