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Nigeria Oil Minister Warns Against “Sabotage” From U.S. Shale

OPEC

The Petroleum Minister of Nigeria, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, has warned that OPEC will not allow U.S. shale drillers to “sabotage” the production cut agreement that the cartel extended by nine months last week at their Vienna meeting.

The warning did not elaborate on what OPEC’s steps would be to combat such acts of “sabotage” by the hands of independent US shale producers.

The agreement, solidified last week, will keep about 2 percent off global supply, but international market reaction was underwhelming, and Brent and WTI prices have been sliding.

Since U.S. producers haven’t signed on to any sort of production cut agreement, “sabotage” may be a bit excessive a qualification for what shale boomers have been doing ever since prices started recovering from the lows they hit in early 2016: expand production as fast and as much as they can so that, among other things, they can repay the debts they’d accumulated in previous, fatter, years.

Chances are that these producers will not stop doing this just because OPEC has decided to prolong the agreement. Yet they may become warier of ramping up production too quickly. As Continental Resources’ Harold Hamm said earlier this year, uncontrollable output increases could drive prices into the ground again.

So, it is in the shale producers’ own interest to not overdo things, especially now that some analysts believe that costs in the shale patch have bottomed out and there is nowhere lower to go.

The general OPEC opinion seems to be that if prices stay between US$50 and US$60, shale output will not grow too much. Judging by the rate at which shale producers have been adding drilling rings in the last few months, this may not be the case. In some parts of the Permian costs have fallen to as little as US$35 a barrel.

Besides, shale oil is not the only OPEC enemy. There is also deepwater oil, where costs have been declining as well. In fact, some observers believe deepwater oil could soon become competitive with shale – that would be just more bad news for OPEC.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Naomi on May 31 2017 said:
    If Nigeria cannot make a profit then get out of the oil business.
  • Kr55 on May 31 2017 said:
    Big words from a country that is not helping the deal at all, and could actually be accused of sabotaging the OPEC deal.

    Permian cost inflation is near $10 a barrel already. They are drilling, but now they're in bidding wars to get the limited frac crews and proponent available on the market.
  • Scott Leach on May 31 2017 said:
    A lot of saber rattling from the Saudi's, Russians and now the Nigerians today. Do they really want to go to war for profit. They would spill a lot of their own blood and spend all their money.
    They certainly talk a war game when it comes to protecting their collusion and manipulation of a market for profit and I am sure that is what is behind most of the bloodshed in the middle east today.

    America needs to continue to put pressure on these criminals by pumping more oil! Love to see them squirm and if it is war they want then I am sure Trump will oblige, but until these yahoos embrace free market values they are doomed to permanent poverty.

    OPEC and co-operating Non-OPEC nations are the market scum of the world and should be punished for their sins....go West Texa$!

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