The cost of shale production has fallen so much since then that it’s becoming a safe haven for major oil companies in times of volatile prices, providing rapid, reliable growth and quick returns even with crude trading for just over $50 a barrel, down by almost a third since the start of October.
ConocoPhillips said Monday it’s spending half its 2019 budget in the continental U.S., while Chevron Corp. is investing more at home than it’s done for more than a decade, with $3.6 billion going to the Permian Basin alone. Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Hess Corp., both global operators, plan to increase spending on their American assets more than 40 percent.
Oil’s recent collapse caused “some different allocation going on within the budget,” Conoco Chief Executive Officer Ryan Lance said on Bloomberg TV. “We’re putting more toward our U.S. unconventional position,” he said, referring to shale.
Production growth “slows down at $50 but I don’t think it stops at $50, and it certainly continues if prices get back to $60,” Lance said. Skeptics thought shale “wouldn’t last long, but it’s here, it’s a huge resource and it’s going to be resilient and long lasting.”