Drilling Our Way Into Oblivion: Shale Was About Land Gambling With Cheap Debt, Not Technological MiraclesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/21/2014 15:00 -0500
The shale patch can exist in its present form only if it has access to nigh limitless credit, and only if prices are in the $100 or up range. Wells in the patch deplete faster than you can say POOF, and drilling new wells costs $10 million or more a piece. Without access to credit, that’s simply not going to happen. That’s about all we need to know. Shale was never a viable industry, it was all about gambling on land prices from the start. And now that wager is over, even if the players don’t get it yet. So strictly speaking my title is a tad off: we’re not drilling our way into oblivion, the drilling is about to grind to a halt. But it will still end in oblivion.
One would think that plunging oil prices and the resulting mothballing (or bankruptcy) of the highest-cost domestic producers would lead to a collapse in US oil production. And sure enough, if looking simply at headline data like the Baker Hughes count of active rigs in the US, then US oil production grinding to a halt would be all but assured. However, what will actually happen, even as the highest-cost producers and those with the weakest balance sheets are taken to their local bankruptcy court, is that as Bloomberg reports, the US is - paradoxically - set to pump a 42-year high amount of oil in 2015 "as drillers ignore the recent decline in price, pointing them in the opposite direction."
- Icahn, Paulson Suffer Large Losses as Energy-Related Bets Sour (WSJ)
- Oil Investors Keep Betting Wrong on When Market Will Bottom (BBG)
- U.S. to sell final $1.25 billion shares of Ally Financial from bailout (Reuters)
- Ally Financial Gets Subpoena Related to Subprime Automotive Finance (WSJ)
- Russia's parliament rushes through bill boosting banking capital (Reuters)
- How a Memo Cost Big Banks $37 Billion (WSJ)
- ECB considers making weaker euro zone states bear more quantitative easing risk (Reuters)
- How the U.S. Could Retaliate Against North Korea (BBG)
- Sydney Siege Sparks Muslim Call for Calm Amid Backlash Fear (BBG)
- Oil Spilling Over Into Central Bank Policy as Fed Enters Fray (BBG)
- Biggest LBO of 2014: BC Partners to acquire PetSmart for $8.7 billion (Reuters)
- Tremble algos: the SEC has hired... "QUANTS" (WSJ)
- When the bubble just isn't bubbly enough: There’s $1.7 Trillion Locked Out of China’s Stock Rally (BBG)
- Oil price slide roils emerging markets, yen rises (Reuters) - may want to hit F5 on that
- Libya Imposes Force Majeure on 2 Oil Ports After Clashes (BBG) ... and will resume production in days
- Amid Crisis, Pimco Steadies Itself (WSJ)
Sometimes I wish I could just passively accept what my government monarchs and their mainstream media mouthpieces feed me on a daily basis. Why do I have to question everything I’m told? Life would be much simpler and I could concentrate on more important things like the size of Kim Kardashian’s ass... The willfully ignorant masses, dumbed down by government education, lured into obesity by corporate toxic packaged sludge disguised as food products, manipulated, controlled and molded by an unseen governing class of rich men, and kept docile through never ending corporate media propaganda, are nothing but pawns to the arrogant sociopathic pricks pulling the wires in this corporate fascist empire of debt.
The American miracle idea of energy independence is fully reliant on a shale patch that went over $100 billion deeper into debt every year for years running just to produce that not-so-miracle. Take away 40%+ of what revenue it did take in, and there is no independence left. All that’s left is fracking fluids in your drinking water, and a few trillion in debt that the Big Kahuna lenders will seek to unload upon the real economy.
It wasn't just China's long overdue crash last night. In addition to the Shanghai Composite suffering its biggest plunge since August 2009, there has been a sharp slide in the USDJPY which has broken its uptrend to +∞ (and hyperinflation), and around the time Chinese gamblers were panicking, the FX pair tumbled under 120, although since then the 120 tractor beam has been activated. Elsewhere, the Athens stock exchange is also crashing by over 10% this morning on the heels of news that the Greek government has accelerated the process to elect the next president and possibly, a rerun of the drama from the summer of 2012 when the Eurozone was hanging by a thread when Tsipras almost won the presidential vote and killed the world's most artificial and insolvent monetary union. And finally, the crude plunge appears to have finally caught up with ground zero, with ADX General Index in Abu Dhabi plunging 3.5%, also poised for the biggest drop since 2009. In fact the only thing that isn't crashing (at least not this moment), is Brent, which did drop to new 5 year lows earlier under $66, but has since staged a feeble rebound.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has come full circle in Denton, Texas after a controversial ban on the practice entered into effect on Tuesday. Denton is one of several cities located on top of the massive Barnett shale formation, regarded as the birthplace of modern fracking. The ban, while incomplete, gives strength to what is a growing anti-fracking movement in the United States.
Perhaps those sub-$50 Bakken prices tell us pretty much where global prices are ahead. And then we’ll take it from there. With 1.8 million barrels “that nobody needs” added to the shale industries growth intentions, where can prices go but down, unless someone starts a big war somewhere? Yesterday’s news that US new oil and gas well permits were off 40% last month may signal where the future of shale is really located. But oil is a field that knows a lot of inertia, long term contracts, future contracts, so changes come with a time lag. It’s also a field increasingly inhabited by desperate producers and government leaders, who wake up screaming in the middle of the night from dreaming about their heads impaled on stakes along desert roads.
Some very significant volatility intraday today. The Dow Transports lost around 2.7% today - the most since early January - as Airlines slipped (though held half of Friday's panic-buying gains). The Dow outperformed - but closed red - thanks to strength in Chevron and Exxon (adding 35 Dow points alone). All major US equity indices are red from pre-Thanksgiving's meltup exuberant close with Trannies and Small Caps worst. Momo names were hit, as was AAPL. All of this was driven, it appears, by a somewhat staggering (dead cat or not) bounce in commodity markets off overnight flush lows. Gold and silver screamed higher and oil gained 7% off its lows to close up 4.8% from Friday. Treasury yields also turned around notably intraday from down 1-2bps to closing up around 6bps at the long-end (after ISM beat). VIX briefly tested below 14 but the 330RAMP went the wrong way with VIX rising and stocks closing not off the lows.
The oil industry is no longer what it once was, it’s not even a normal industry anymore. Oil companies sell assets and borrow heavily, then buy back their own stock and pay out big dividends. What kind of business model is that? Well, not the kind that can survive a 40% cut in revenue for long. Cheap oil a boon for the economy? You might want to give that some thought.
The precipitous decline in the price of oil is perhaps one of the most bearish macro developments this year. We believe we are entering a “new oil normal,” where oil prices stay lower for longer. While we highlighted the risk of a near-term decline in the oil price in our July newsletter, we failed to adjust our portfolio sufficiently to reflect such a scenario. This month we identify the major implications of our revised energy thesis. The reason oil prices started sliding in June can be explained by record growth in US production, sputtering demand from Europe and China, and an unwind of the Middle East geopolitical risk premium. The world oil market, which consumes 92 million barrels a day, currently has one million barrels more than it needs.... Large energy companies are sitting on a great deal of cash which cushions the blow from a weak pricing environment in the short-term. It is still important to keep in mind, however, that most big oil projects have been planned around the notion that oil would stay above $100, which no longer seems likely.
- Ferguson in Flames (Reuters)
- Ferguson Cop Told Grand Jury He Feared for His Life (BBG)
- Sharpton: Grand Jury Announcement ‘An Absolute Blow’ (Daily Caller)
- Gunshots echo as violence returns to Ferguson, protests across U.S. (Reuters)
- BoJ members warned on costs of more easing (FT)
- Hagel Exit Shows Obama Has Taken Power Away From Pentagon (BBG)
- Ukraine leader, under pressure from West, pledges new government soon (Reuters)
- Eurozone Stagnation Poses Major Risk to Global Growth, OECD Warns (WSJ)
- ECB’s Coeure Says Officials Won’t Rush as They Debate All Assets (BBG)
- Grand jury expected to resume Ferguson police shooting deliberations (Reuters)
- PBOC Bounce Seen Short Lived as History Defies Bulls (BBG)
- Home prices dropped in September for the first time since January (HousingWire)
- UPS Teaches Holiday Recruits to Fend Off Dogs, Dodge NYC Taxis (BBG)
- US oil imports from Opec at 30-year low (FT)
- Hedge Funds Bet on Coal-Mining Failures (WSJ)
- Putin Woos Pakistan as Cold War Friend India Buys U.S. Arms (BBG)
- How the EU Plans to Turn $26 Billion Into $390 Billion (BBG)
- The $31 Billion Bet Against Brazil’s New Finance Minister (BBG)
Russia finds itself in familiar territory after a controversial half-year, highlighted by the bloody and still unresolved situation in Ukraine. Nonetheless, the prospect of further sanctions looms low and Russia’s stores of oil and gas remain high. Shortsighted? Maybe, but Russia has proven before – the 2008 financial crisis for example– that it can ride its resource rents through a prolonged economic slump. Higher oil price volatility and sanctions separate the current downturn from that of 2008, but Russia’s economic fundamentals remain the same – bolstered by low government debt and a large amount of foreign reserves.