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U.S. Shale Drillers Are Already Reopening Oil Wells, Pipe Giant Says


(Bloomberg) — Some drillers in the biggest North American oil field are reopening wells shut in response to the pandemic-driven price collapse, according to pipeline giant Energy Transfer LP.

A pumpjack operates on an oil well in the Permian Basin near Orla, Texas. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

In the Permian Basin’s Midland region, about 8% of oil volumes that feed Energy Transfer’s pipe network had been shut at the start of the month, Mackie McCrea, the company’s chief commercial officer, said during a conference call on Monday.

“As of today, we’ve seen about 25% of that turned back on,” McCrea said.

His comments come as drillers including Continental Resources Inc. and Callon Petroleum Co. announce additional oil curtailments. American drillers have disclosed plans to halt more than 600,000 barrels of daily output through the end of next month, Rystad Energy said last week.

But Energy Transfer said the industry probably has made it through the worst of the price crash triggered by Covid-19 lockdowns that zapped demand. “We see that things have bottomed out in our opinion and that things are improving,” McCrea said.

Oil producers have generally been vague about when they’ll ramp output back up, though some have hinted that oil prices in the high-$20s or low-$30s could be sufficient. While several drillers have said they’ve “voluntarily” curtailed production, others have had their hand forced by rapidly filling storage capacity.

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