While the U.S. Shale Energy Industry continues to borrow money to produce uneconomical oil and gas, there is another important phenomenon that is not understood by the analyst community. The critical factor overlooked by the media is the fact that the U.S. shale industry is swindling and stealing energy from other areas to stay alive. Let me explain.
First, let’s take a look at some interesting graphs done by the Bloomberg Gadfly. The first chart below shows how the U.S. shale industry continues to burn through investor cash regardless of $100 or $50 oil prices:
The chart above shows the negative free cash flow for 33 shale-weighted E&P companies. Even at $100 oil prices in 2012 and 2013, these companies spent more money producing shale energy in the top four U.S. shale fields than they made from operations. While costs to produce shale oil and gas came down in 2015 and 2016 (due to lower energy input prices), these companies still spent more money than they made. As we can see, the Permian basin (in black) gets the first place award for losing the most money in the group.
Now, burning through investor money to produce low-quality, subpar oil is only part of the story. The shale energy companies utilized another tactic to bring in additional funds from the POOR SLOBS in the retail investment community… it’s called equity issuance. This next chart reveals the annual equity issuance by the U.S. E&P companies: