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U.S. Shale Is Pushing OPEC To Breaking Point

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Michael McDonald, Oil Price

The trend in the United States of accelerating oil production does not seem to be slowing down. Recent reports show that oil production from U.S. shale producers will increase in April, according to the Energy Information Administration. High market prices are currently being supported by OPEC cutbacks, and these higher profits are funding the growth of American drilling.

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The release from the EIA predicts that net oil production will increase by 109,000 barrels per day in April. The seven major oil and gas basins that were included in the report will then have an output over nearly 5 million barrels per day collectively.

The monthly projections from the EIA have been climbing month after month since December. That month, 11 large oil exporting countries joined the supply cuts established by OPEC to control what they believed was an oversupplied market for crude oil.

In the United States, the main benefactors have been drillers at the Permian Basin, in Western Texas and southern New Mexico. The basin has been producing high volume since the end of 2016. The EIA expects the Permian drillers to see a gain of 70,000 barrels per day next month in their projections.

However, the Permian Basin is not the only United States site trying to capitalize on high prices. Drillers in southeast Texas, the Eagle Ford region, have also been ramping up production. Those drillers will amount for an increase 28,000 barrels per day in the EIA’s overall growth projections. Prior growth expectations for Eagle Ford producers was half on that number, at an increase of 14,000 barrels per day; the growth is not only steady, but is accelerating.

The EIA report for next month also shows a decline at several U.S. drilling sites. Take, for instance, the Niobrara region of Colorado and the Bakken Shale production in North Dakota. Both will experience declines of 11,000 barrels per day, and 10,000 barrels per day respectively.

The supply increases by the U.S. have capped any gains to be seen for OPEC nations from their cutbacks. This has been keeping crude futures within a tight range. On Monday, March 13th, U.S. crude ended at $48.40, a price that hasn’t been seen since before OPEC announced their cutbacks in December 2016.

These recent developments have led analysts to believe OPEC’s cutback policy is fated to end in the near future.

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