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U.S. Shale Won’t Fill Gap If OPEC+ Cuts Oil Production

The U.S. shale industry won’t step in to fill the gap left by an OPEC+ crude oil production cut, energy executives told Reuters on Tuesday.

OPEC+ is set to review on Wednesday its production plans for November—and the industry consensus is that OPEC+ could consider slashing its output by anywhere from 500,000 bpd to more than a million barrels per day. While some in the industry have pointed out that cutting its targets isn’t the same as cutting actual production, the fact that the group’s most prolific oil producer, Saudi Arabia, is producing to its current target means that any production cut would at a minimum result in a production decrease from The Kingdom.

And energy executives are saying that OPEC+ remains in control of the market, and that U.S. shale can’t step in to compensate for any production declines.

“Nothing is going to ramp up fast,” Andy Hendricks, CEO of driller Patterson-UTI, told Reuters. Most companies have 2023 drilling plans nearly set in stone, inflation has increased equipment costs, and labor has grown increasingly difficult to find.

The U.S. shale industry has been a competent counter to OPEC actions, at least in recent years, ramping up when OPEC cut production—a perfect counterbalance to keeping prices in check.

But those days are over, oil and gas CEOs told Reuters on Tuesday, and crude oil prices—and gasoline prices—could rise substantially if OPEC+ announces production cuts later this week.

“If OPEC cuts a million barrels a day, I think gas prices would go back up to $6 a gallon,” John Catsimatidis, CEO of United Refining Company, told Reuters.

Gasoline prices in the United States were up on Tuesday to $3.805 per gallon—up from $3.747 per gallon, according to AAA data.

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By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on October 04 2022 said:
    US shale oil is a spent force. It can neither raise its production nor can it fill any gap should OPEC+ decide to cut its oil production.

    In the past, the US shale industry acted as a counterbalance to OPEC ramping up
    Its production when OPEC cut its production but those days are over probably for ever.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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