- Why prices under $100 per barrel just aren't cash flow positive for shale oil producers
- VIDEO: all you need to know about the shale oil industry
- Why the Boom/Bust cycle is swinging to 'Bust' for shale companies
- Why a prolonged 'Bust' in oil prices will create massive economic shockwaves
The Shale Reality
Now, let me build on the case that not only are shale companies not profitable at $50 per barrel oil, but they are often not profitable at prices nearly 100% higher than that.
I’m not about to make the case that all shale operators are unprofitable or about to go bust on the plays, but I am going to make the case that any sweeping statements like “technology will bring us Shale 2.0” are utterly adrift from the evidence at our disposal.
Let’s go back to September 2014, before any oil price weakness had crept into the picture. At that point in time, according the WSJ author, the shale operators should have been swimming in cash.
Well, that’s just not the case. And some of them were losing their shirts:
Sept 29, 2014
Sumitomo Corp of Japan has drawn a line under its disastrous two-year foray into shale oil in the US, with writedowns connected to the project almost completely erasing its full-year earnings.
On Monday, Sumitomo, the fourth biggest of Japan’s trading companies by market capitalisation, said that an impairment loss of Y170bn ($1.6bn) on a “tight oil” project in west Texas would form the bulk of Y240bn of charges for the fiscal year to March 2015.
Hmmmm. I guess Sumitomo just failed to use enough smart technology or something, because otherwise how is it possible to lose $1.6 billion at a time when oil was solidly priced in the $100 range?
Sarcasm aside, the truth is that it’s all too easy to lose money in the shale plays, something I believe is already completely indicated by the negative free cash flows of the industry.
In fact, that negative free cash flow evidence tells me that…