Oil and gas drillers are suffering through their darkest hours at least since the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, if not the worst period since the 1980s. Oil prices could fall to the mid to low $30s per barrel, not only forcing cut backs in production, but potentially forcing an increasing number of producers out of the market entirely.
Hercules Offshore (NASDAQ: HERO) just announced plans to file for bankruptcy after the shallow water rig supplier suffered from a rapid decline in business. Samson Resources Corp., held by private equity firm KKR & Co. (NYSE: KKR), plans on filing for bankruptcy protection in September.
With oil prices still searching for a bottom, more companies could be on the firing line.
Still, exploration and production companies have made significant strides in bringing down the cost of drilling. Everything from wringing out savings from suppliers, to achieving efficiency gains in drilling through better well spacing and focusing on prime acreage.
But those are still just incremental gains, and particularly with lower rates from oilfield service companies, those costs could rise again when the boom times return.
The real opportunity is in revolutionary cost-savings; savings that will take drilling into a new era.
The next phase of cost reductions will come not from exploration companies twisting the arms of their suppliers, which will be tenuous at best, or from inventing a new piece of drilling…