In the disaster that continues for independent shale oil producers, some brief moments of sunlight peek through. And right now, one of those moments is shining on Hess, one of the first and most committed to the Bakken shale play, a particular play gaining some interim relief from the oil bust.
It’s been clear to me that the down cycle for independent E+P’s here in the US was not going to be a short one – I outline all of the reasons for this and my projected timing in my new book "Shale Boom, Shale Bust", now available everywhere. But where rig counts have been decimated, there have been some small indications of production also leveling off a lot quicker than most analysts (and I) thought might happen – particularly in the Bakken.
I suppose that the Bakken is the most likely place to see a quick turnaround from rig numbers going down to a translation on supply numbers; after all, it is the most mature of the shale plays, even though it is only 7 years old. But the players there, or at least the strong ones, are far better established than in other shale plays around the country: Continental Resources (CLR), Conoco-Philips (COP), Whiting (WLL), Apache (APA), EOG Resources (EOG) and Hess, to name just a few of the big ones.
It is also where the most speculative players went first to drill the outer reaches of the core areas that the ‘big boys’ had already staked out and are clearly on their way to tossing in the towel during…