The price of oil dropped significantly last week on the news that U.S. crude output had risen to the highest level since August 2015.
In this clip from the Industry Focus podcast, Motley Fool energy analysts Sean O'Reilly and Taylor Muckerman discuss how America is producing so much oil even though rig counts haven't really recovered from 2014 highs, and what to make of reports that U.S. shale production won't last more than five more years.
A full transcript follows the video.
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This video was recorded on May 4, 2017.
Sean O'Reilly: Oil continues to fall as U.S. production surges. Oil has fallen today as it was reported that U.S. crude output rose to 9.29 million barrels per day on average last month, the highest level since August 2015, according to the Energy Information Administration, which is the federal government agency -- this is not the French EIA, or whatever. OPEC is likely to extend the 1.2 million-barrel-a-day cut agreed to in November for six months according to a Nigerian oil minister, Emmanuel Kachikwu -- I'm totally destroying the pronunciation, I apologize. For some context, we topped out at 9.6 million barrels per day, give or take, back in 2014.
Taylor Muckerman: Sounds about right.
O'Reilly: So we're only 300,000 barrels a day off of that. We sprung back pretty quickly there.
Muckerman: Every major basin in the U.S. is producing on an up slope right now. The Permian never stopped growing, even during the downturn.
O'Reilly: So offshore is really the only thing that's down, then?
Muckerman: I don't have the exact numbers, but yeah, I would have to imagine. You don't hear about much production offshore these days.
O'Reilly: We bottomed out at ... was it 8.4 million barrels?
Muckerman: Yeah, it was in the mid-eights. You see the rig count is back to where it was in early 2015.
O'Reilly: So it's not back to the 2014 highs, as production isn't ... but still.
Muckerman: No, but to show that the rig count was not even close to where it was at the peak, and we're still only 300,000 barrels off per day of production ...
O'Reilly: We're good at being wildcatters. Yee-haw!
Muckerman: [laughs] Yeah, we're very good at being wildcatters. I can't remember which CEO, it might have been Chevron's CEO, he still won't say that shale -- and he's right -- shale won't be the savior forever. But it's certainly the savior in terms of oil production right now.
O'Reilly: Do you ever see those reports that the shale is fun and everything, but there's only so much we can do with current technology, and we'll make it a little bit better, but really it's only going to last another five years?
Muckerman: I don't know if I've seen an end date.
O'Reilly: We'll have to do that on another show, it's totally cool. But I've seen these things, like, "This is awesome and great and fine, but it's not billions upon billions of barrels."
Muckerman: That's what we thought decades ago, too. And then we figured it out. And we're still leaving a bunch of oil in the ground in these unconventional wells, sometimes upwards of 60% or 70% is still left in the ground. So we can figure out how to tap into it. There's incentive to figure out how to do it. There's a lot of headway there.