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‘Big Oil’ Is Rapidly Becoming ‘Big Shale’

David Sheppard, Financial Times

Bullish production forecasts from US supermajors make unhappy reading for Opec nations

It is not often that routine corporate updates can rattle nations but that is exactly what happened this week.

ExxonMobil and Chevron, the two largest US energy supermajors, both raised their guidance for the amount of oil they expect to squeeze out of the Permian Basin, the heartland of the US shale boom, over the next five years.

In the process they sent a signal to Opec countries that any hopes that the shale revolution might falter are grossly misplaced.

The scale of the revisions are hard to overstate, with “Big Oil” increasingly becoming “Big Shale”. Operators are bringing expertise and efficiency earned over decades in far-flung corners of the globe to an area previously dominated by wildcatters and domestically-focused US oil companies.

By 2024 Exxon and Chevron now expect to be pumping almost 2m barrels a day combined from the Permian, which straddles Texas and New Mexico. That is 60 per cent more than previously forecast.

The Permian as a whole will already produce about 4m b/d this year, meaning that this one region — if it were an Opec country — would be the third-largest producer in the cartel, behind only Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

For Opec this spells trouble.

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