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美国页岩生产商终于准备好重新开始钻探
举报2021-09-28 09:14:12 来源:中国石化新闻网

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据油价网9月24日报道,在过去一年里,美国页岩生产商的表现堪称典范。 这并不是页岩行业想要做的事情。 这是新冠肺炎疫情和股东迫使它们这么做的,在等待暴利多年之后,美国页岩生产商坚定了立场,要求更高的回报。 但也许是做出改变的时候了。


美国页岩现在一定已经习惯了价格冲击。 即便如此,由新冠肺炎大流行导致的原油需求破坏肯定造成了伤害。 除了痛苦之外,大型上市页岩生产商还有许多不满的股东要应对。 他们通过削减开支、削减产量和专注于产生现金流来应对这些问题。


大型上市页岩生产商在很大程度上得到了欧佩克+的帮助,欧佩克+将其总产量削减了770万桶/天,这是前所未有的,一些非欧佩克产油国也承担了部分责任。 从那时起,需求已经恢复,价格也已恢复。 几个月来,所有人都在关注美国页岩,期待着钻井公司开始大幅增加钻井量。 到目前为止,这个行业已经超出了预期。 但这种情况似乎不会持续太久。


据《金融时报》日前报道,明年美国原油日产量将增加80万桶。 该报告指出,考虑到美国油价目前在70美元/桶左右,大多数页岩井再次开始盈利,这并不令人意外。 但这次有一个有趣的不同之 IHS Markit分析师表示,这一次盈利将由私营独立钻井公司牵头。


尽管这一预测很有趣,但并不令人意外。 甚至在新冠肺炎疫情爆发之前,不满的股东就成了页岩油的热门话题。 多年来,为了让美国成为世界上最大的石油生产国而烧钱来提高产量,对于那些购买了先锋自然资源公司、德文能源公司和大陆资源公司股票的股东来说,这是毫无意义的。 他们为了股息买入这些公司和其他上市公司的股票。


因此,当这些股息没有达到股东预期的规模时,不满情绪就会加剧。 与此同时,能源转型叙事正日益流行,引发了人们的担忧:在能源世界不断变化的情况下,对页岩油的押注正变得越来越不安全。因此,上市页岩钻探公司只剩下一个选择:开始交付。


他们这样做已经有一段时间了。 正如路透社最近报道的那样,大型页岩企业一直在提高股息,增加可变分配和股票回购等措施,以留住股东,同时也采取积极措施减少他们的债务负担——这是令页岩投资者担忧的主要原因。


因此,在经历了多年的失望之后,上市页岩钻探公司一直在讨好股东,即使是现在,如果他们开始钻探更多的页岩,仍然面临着遭到强烈反对的风险。 然而,随着需求的恢复,已开钻但未完钻井的库存减少,他们将需要尽快做到这一点。 因此,页岩钻井公司将需要增加支出,以保持目前的产量水平。


与此同时,小型私营钻井公司一直在苦苦挣扎,直到疫情危机最糟糕的时刻过去。 现在这一切都过去了,他们可以随心所欲地提高产量。 私营钻井公司无需向股东汇报。 他们唯一关心的是市场。 如果有足够的需求将油价推高至有利可图的水平,那么这些小型私营钻井公司就会开采更多的石油,而需求的前景也相当乐观。


据IHS Markit的拉乌尔•勒布朗称,毫无疑问,这些私营页岩油独立公司将占明年美国原油产量预期增长的一半以上。 《金融时报》援引勒布朗的话说,这一比例高于以往任何一年的20%。


IHS Markit分析师对英国《金融时报》表示,“私营页岩油独立公司不赞成这种资本纪律的做法,对他们来说,这是他们的窗口。他们在想,‘这是我的机会,我要利用它’,因为他们认为这可能是他们最后和最好的机会。”


今年1月,当油价反弹,WTI交易价格在50美元左右时,伍德麦肯兹的一位分析师称这是一曲诱人的歌声——预计油价反弹将使美国页岩生产商再次转向增长模式,并对价格构成压力。 但这并没有发生,因为这些大公司新制定了资本纪律。 然而,小生产商要灵活得多,因为他们不需要取悦股东。 过不了多久,它们可能会成为价格的下行风险。


在每桶50美元左右的价格下,很多页岩油变得有利可图。 如果价格超过20美元,大多数页岩油都是有利可图的。 没有人可能会指责私营独立公司抓住机会将其石油资产货币化,对于石油时代结束的长期预测(尽管这些预测与其说是预测,倒不如说是希望)也是如此。


李峻 编译自 油价网


原文如下:


U.S. Shale Is Finally Ready To Drill


U.S. shale producers have behaved in an exemplary way in the past year. It wasn’t something the industry wanted to do. It was something it was forced to do by the pandemic and by its shareholders, who after years of waiting for windfalls put their foot down and demanded higher returns. But it just might be time for a change.


U.S. shale must by now be used to the price shocks. Even so, the pandemic-driven destruction of demand for crude must have hurt. On top of that pain, the large public shale producers had many unhappy shareholders to deal with. They dealt with them by cutting spending, slashing production, and focusing on cash flow generation.


They largely did it with some help from OPEC+, which cut an unprecedented 7.7 million bpd from its combined production, and some non-OPEC producers that stepped in to shoulder part of the burden. Since then, demand has recovered, and so have prices. All eyes have been on U.S. shale for months now, expecting drillers to start ramping up drilling in a major way. So far, the industry has defied expectations. But it seems this won’t continue for much longer.


U.S. crude oil production is set to rise by 800,000 bpd next year, the Financial Times reported this week. This is hardly surprising given that U.S. oil prices are around $70 per barrel now, making most shale wells profitable again, the report notes. But there is one interesting thing that is different this time. According to an IHS Markit analyst, it would be private independent drillers that will lead the charge this time.


As interesting as this forecast is, it is hardly surprising. Even before the pandemic struck, disgruntled shareholders were the talk of the town in shale oil. Years of burning cash to boost production just so the United States could become the largest oil producer in the world never made sense with shareholders who bought into Pioneer Natural Resources, Devon Energy, and Continental Resources. They bought into these companies and their public peers for the dividends.


So when these dividends did not come in the size shareholders expected, disgruntlement grew. It also coincided with the growing popularity of the energy transition narrative sparking worry that shale oil bets were becoming increasingly unsafe in a changing energy world. So the public shale drillers had one option left: begin to deliver.


They have been doing this for a while now. As Reuters recently reported, the large shale players have been boosting dividends and adding to them things like variable distributions and share buybacks to keep shareholders on board while also taking active steps to reduce their debt load - a major cause for worry among shale investors.


So, public shale drillers have been pampering shareholders after years of disappointments and even now continue to be at risk of a backlash if they start drilling more. This, however, they will need to do soon as the inventory of drilled but uncompleted wells shrinks amid the return of demand. Shale drillers, therefore, would need to raise spending to keep their output at current levels.


Meanwhile, small private drillers have hung on by the skin of their teeth until the worst of the pandemic crisis blew over. Now that this is behind them, their hands are untied to ramp up production as much as they like. Private drillers have no shareholders to report to. Their only concern is the market. If there is enough demand to push prices to a profitable level, then these companies will drill and pump more oil. And the outlook for demand is quite rosy.


No wonder then that, according to IHS Markit’s Raoul LeBlanc, those private shale oil independents are set to account for more than half of the expected increase in U.S. crude oil production next year. That’s up from 20 percent in any other year, the FT quoted LeBlanc as noting.


“The privates are not on board with this whole capital discipline thing. For them, this is their window,” the IHS Markit analyst told the FT. “They’re thinking, ‘here’s my chance and I’m going to take advantage of it’ because they see it as maybe their last, best chance.”


In January, when prices were on the rebound and WTI was trading at around $50, one Wood Mac analyst called it a siren song - the price recovery that was expected to switch U.S. shale producers to a growth mode again and pressure prices. This did not happen because of the majors’ newfound capital discipline. Yet small producers are a lot more flexible since they don’t have shareholders to keep happy. And they could become a downside risk for prices before too long.


A lot of shale oil became profitable at prices around $50. At $20 over that, most shale oil is profitable. No one could possibly blame private independents for grabbing the chance to monetize their oil assets, not with the long-term forecasts - although these are rather wishes than forecasts - about the end of the oil era.

 

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