With the turn of the calendar to 2019, a perfect storm quietly brewed over the nation’s most prolific oil basin.
For all the record-breaking output of crude in the Permian, the ginormous acreage grabs and price tags, and the visceral anticipation by E&P shareholders, clouds quickly began to gather. A turnabout is occurring in what is arguably the most heralded shale star of the new energy renaissance—the mighty Permian Basin. Over the last three years, crude production there has doubled as independent producers scrambled to own a piece of the Golden Goose and the promise of gushers made possible by hydraulic fracturing. Investors backed their drilling programs with giddy hopes of their own and reams of money. The name of the game became Drill More, and the number of rigs along the dusty plains of Texas and New Mexico soared, as did the debt and overhead of many independents battling a lack of midstream infrastructure and declining oil prices.
Enter 2019 and a loud edict to slash costs, reduce debt, focus on earnings growth, and consolidate. Added infrastructure to get supplies to market is happening but can’t be completed soon enough. Private equity money is drying up faster than an old desert water well with investors and shareholders alike demanding returns that befit their investments. The pressure is on to adapt and mutate to the new rules in the Permian, which may already be seeing signs of a slowdown as independents sweat bullets to ramp up their share prices. What do you think?