Is a Funding Pinch Coming in the US Shale Patch?

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After examining plans announced by 33 of the largest U.S. shale oil producers, analysts at Rystad Energy determined that the producers need an additional $8.3 billion in funding, in addition to a total of $2.4 billion in debt refinancing, to meet a capital expenditure expectations of $58.4 billion this year at an anticipated price of $60 a barrel for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil.

Absent the additional funding, capital spending would dip to an estimated $47.7 billion for the year and lower the number of completed wells using external capital from 6,900 to 5,600.

If external capital falls short by $10.7 billion, U.S. production would drop by 275,000 barrels a day, according to the Rystad Energy calculations. The researchers explain:

We expect Anadarko, ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil to have positive cash flow balances amounting to USD 2.3 billion in 2018. Unless these companies acquire the acreage of cash negative operators, the gap between capex and available funds without additional financing will come to USD 10.7 billion.

Operating cash flow for 2018 is estimated at $67.2 billion, and 42% of hedged production secured through swap contracts have a ceiling of $52 a barrel. If WTI prices reach $60 a barrel, the hedging loss would amount to $1.8 billion.

Rystad Energy identified seven companies that would take the biggest hit from hedging losses: Concho Resources, Encana, Diamondback Energy, Devon Energy, Pioneer Natural Resources, QEP Resources and WPX Energy.

As oil prices improved last year, producers issued much less new equity than in 2016. Equity issuances valued at $7.3 billion represented about a quarter of 2016’s new equity total of $32.9 billion. Rising interest rates also could reduce the flow of debt financing available to fund expected levels of 2018 capital spending.

WTI for March delivery traded down about 1% Monday morning to $64.78 a barrel, after settling Friday at $65.45.