OPEC Not Likely to Stop Shale Boom

by Kenneth E. DuBose on December 18, 2014

OPEC’s decision in November of 2014 to not cut production was a direct assault on U.S. shale production, but its not likely to stop the U.S. shale boom.

The shale oil boom has been made possible by advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, putting the U.S. in a prominent position on the world stage once again for crude oil production.

The Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas accounts for more than 1.5-million barrels of crude oil per day, and cumulative production in Texas and North Dakota, which encompasses the most active areas of the Bakken Shale, currently make up almost half of the nation’s crude oil supply.

Read moreEIA: Eagle Ford Shale Expected to Hit 1.614-Million b/d in Nov. 2014

OPEC Production Costs are Lower than in U.S. Shale

In the Middle East, production costs are less than $30 per barrel on average, according to the Norwegian firm Rystad Energy. OPEC is betting as prices fall, higher relative costs for U.S. shale production, will put the brakes on growth. But in certain “sweet spot” areas for drilling in the Eagle Ford and Bakken Shale in North Dakota, new wells can be drilled profitably, even if crude falls to $25 per barrel, according to ITG Investment Research Inc., cited in a recent Bloomberg article.

Ultimately, nobody has a crystal ball to predict futures prices for crude oil, but with WTI now below $60, some operators in U.S. domestic shale plays will consider scaling back their drilling programs in certain areas in 2015, and wait to see what will happen with crude oil prices.

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