Texas Wells in the Permian being Drilled and Fracked
By Mark Finley
There’s finally some good news in the US oil patch after a rough couple of years. The US has added nearly 300 oil-focused rigs (though the count is still about one-third below pre-COVID levels). Banks are starting to open their wallets for drillers. Optimism is returning: The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) projectsthat, after two consecutive annual declines, domestic production of crude oil and natural gas liquids will grow by 1.3 million barrels per day (Mb/d) in 2022.
The recovery in investment and drilling is evident in growing domestic production: Crude oil output in oil-focused shale plays hit a low-point of just over 6 million barrels per day (Mb/d) earlier this year (with twin impacts from the COVID-driven price and investment collapse, as well as the deep freeze of winter storm Uri). Output now stands at about 7.7 Mb/d – though again, it remains well below the pre-COVID peak of 8.5 Mb/d in March 2020.
I’ve written several times about the prospects for US shale production and the broader implications for the oil market (for example, see here and here). For an analyst like me, US shale production is a perfect topic to write about: it’s big; always-changing; with big impacts on the economy (as well as the strategies of OPEC and other market players)…and there is lots of good data available!
I’ve previously explained a key tactic used by the industry to weather the COVID-driven downturn: sharply cutting drilling, yet sustaining production by dramatically reducing the inventory of drilled-but-uncompleted wells (or DUCs). Based on the latest data from EIA, the withdrawal of DUCs in oil-focused plays continues, allowing the industry to continue bringing new wells into production without bearing the cost of drilling those wells.
The reduction in DUCs last month was equivalent to boosting the oil-focused rig count by over 40%—that is, it’s as if nearly 500 rigs were working rather than the roughly 350 that EIA actually counted in its latest monthly Drilling Productivity Report (DPR). Based on that estimate, I calculate that the DUCs inventory has contributed over 1 Mb/d of new production since the onset of the COVID pandemic. That is, if US oil production in these plays had been driven only by new wells drilled & completed – with no change in the DUCs inventory – US production today would be more than 1 Mb/d lower.
As I explained previously, the industry will need to significantly boost new drilling to replace the production impact currently provided by drawing down DUCs as the inventory of DUCs is depleted. Even with the domestic rig count rising robustly, this represents a potential headwind for US production in the months ahead.
And there’s another potential headwind for the US shale industry as it tries to rebound: productivity. Dramatic improvements in productivity – driven by innovations in drilling and completion – helped the industry weather previous price declines, and EIA recently pointed out that drilling and completion efficiency continues to improve. But improvements have slowed significantly in recent years as the technology has matured. Indeed, pre-COVID, EIA’s productivity measure for shale operations (new production per working rig) had plateaued.
Then a funny thing happened: After COVID hit, the EIA’s data on productivity of shale operations skyrocketed. A weighted average of the reported data for oil-focused plays shows that new production per working rig rose from roughly 1,000 b/d at the onset of the pandemic to 1,500 b/d by last summer…and has remained near that figure ever since. Pre-COVID, it had taken five years for productivity to grow by that much.
On one level, perhaps that isn’t surprising. After all, when the industry contracted following the COVID-driven price collapse, only the best crews were left, working the best geological prospects, with the best rigs and completion kits. And nothing forces innovation like the need for survival (see “negative US oil prices”)! While companies argue that the dramatic improvements seen post-COVID will be durable, one would expect to see some degradation of this productivity measure in recent months as prices increased significantly and industry investment and activity rebounded. Indeed, EIA’s reported productivity data has dipped after peaking in November of last year—albeit only by 5%.
Nevertheless, that’s not the whole story. There also appears to be a data reporting issue: As noted above, withdrawal of DUCs has contributed a large share of new US crude oil production—but this is not reflected in the rig count.
That greatly complicates our ability to interpret EIA’s productivity data.
But there’s another way to develop a stylized view of shale productivity. Using EIA’s reported data for rigs, DUCs, and production, I use a two-step process to reverse-engineer a stylized estimate of productivity.
First, I correct for the DUCs issue by substituting the effective rig count – adding the number of rigs equivalent to the reduction in monthly DUCs as described above. This gives a figure that more closely represents the productivity of new wells. As expected, it runs above EIA-reported figures when DUCs were increasing early in the pandemic, but then runs consistently below EIA figures as DUCs have been withdrawn. On this basis, per-well productivity today is broadly what it was pre-COVID.
And there’s another problem we still need to address: In the documentation for the DPR, EIA reports that “average new well production rate per rig is calculated as the product of the number of wells drilled per rig and the average production per well. This calculation is subject to the Rig Count to Well Count Delay, such that the production per rig for the current month is applicable to the rig count two months prior.” That formula works for the last month or two, and is generally close to the reported data for most months—but the data during COVID goes completely crazy, as EIA struggles to grapple with wells that were shut-in (due to the negative price episode last year or the deep freeze this year), many of which subsequently returned to production. The EIA formula runs below the reported data in periods with large production shut-ins, and runs above the reported data for periods when shut-in production returns. EIA smooths this data for continuity—see the example below for the Permian basin.
And here’s the final piece of the puzzle. As EIA does, I use judgment to smooth the DUCs-adjusted productivity to account for actively-producing wells that are shut-in, and subsequently returned to production. I roughly anchor the starting and ending points on the adjusted data as described above, on the assumption that shut-in and returning wells were not a material consideration pre-COVID, nor today. (Important caveat: Again, this is a very stylized approach using aggregate data…researchers with access – for a price – to well-by-well data can answer these questions with much greater authority and accuracy.)
But what this highly-stylized data shows is a profile for productivity that appears more in line with what one would expect:
· Rising as the industry contracted sharply early in the pandemic, although not as aggressively as the EIA productivity figures show; and
· Falling as the industry expands—though the decline is slow because industry learning and continued innovation help to offset the productivity losses associated by moving to less competitive crews, rigs and geography.
What does this mean going forward?
I see both good news and bad news. The bad news is that, if productivity continues to edge lower as activity recovers, it would represent a further headwind for future US oil production. The good news is two-fold:
· The adverse impact would likely be small compared with the DUCs challenge. The industry needs to add 40% more rigs to offset the coming exhaustion of the DUCs inventory while maintaining current production. A further 5% decline in productivity would require an additional 5% increase in rigs to keep output stable. Note that both of these increases in the rig count would be needed just to hold production steady; even more rigs would be needed to grow production. (Unfortunately, the EIA does not forecast rigs or DUCs in its oil market outlook.)
· Finally, if history is any guide, we can expect the ingenuity and competitiveness of US companies to continue driving innovation. That is, after all, how we got the shale revolution in the first place!
Bottom line: Official data suggests US shale producers have realized sharp productivity gains since the COVID-driven price collapse, as has been the case in earlier downturns. But correcting for a gap in the Energy Department’s data reporting yields a more cautious view on productivity gains. The short-term question is, will productivity become a tailwind or a headwind for domestic producers as they seek to capitalize on higher prices?
The UN COP26 meeting in Glasgow begins this week, bringing expectations for new policies to reduce longer-term demand for oil and other fossil. If the oil market does indeed contract because of new policies, productivity gains will be a crucial factor for US shale production to remain competitive.
 This analysis assumes for simplification that DUCs being brought into production have the same average crude oil output as the national average of all shale wells.
 And adding the assumption that decline rates are relatively stable. EIA’s data shows a weighted average decline rate in oil-focused plays of 5.5% in the most recent month, very close the decline rate reported pre-COVID (in February-March 2020).
Mark Finley is the Fellow in Energy and Global Oil at the Baker Institute. Before joining the Baker Institute, Finley was the senior U.S. economist at BP. For 12 years, he led the production of the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, the world’s longest-running compilation of objective global energy data.
We explore a variety of global energy issues through its programs in global oil, global natural gas, energy and cybersecurity, energy and the environment, and electricity
We explore a variety of global energy issues through its programs in global oil, global natural gas, energy and cybersecurity, energy and the environment, and electricity policy, as well as programs with specific focus on China, Brazil and Mexico and energy-macroeconomy linkages. Led by Senior Director Kenneth B. Medlock III, our primary mission at the CES is to provide new insights on the role of economics, policy and regulation in the performance and evolution of energy markets. Independently and through collaborations with other Baker Institute programs and fellows, Rice University faculty, and scholars from around the world, the Baker Institute CES employs rigorous economic modeling and forecasting in a data-driven approach to understand how local and regional policy and regulations and international geopolitics influence markets, an approach that establishes the center as a globally recognized, unbiased resource for policymakers and the energy industry.
WWE Partners With Fox’s Blockchain Creative Labs In NFT Deal
WWE is partnering with Fox’s Blockchain Creative Labs in an NFT deal.
WWE has expanded its partnership with Fox
Fox currently airs WWE Friday Night SmackDown amid a massive billion-dollar deal signed in 2019, and through its Blockchain Creative Labs NFT imprint (spawned from a partnership alongside Bento Box Entertainment), Fox’s NFT deal with WWE will feature its first NFTs outside of the Fox umbrella. Blockchain Creative Labs currently manages a $100 million creative fund. In addition to NFTs dedicated to the hit show The Masked Singer, Fox’s forthcoming animated comedy KRAPOPOLIS will become the first animated series to be curated entirely on the blockchain.
“Blockchain Creative Labs has quickly become a leader in the space with an incredible executive team that truly understands the NFT arena and its tremendous potential,” said Scott Zanghellini, WWE Senior Vice President, Revenue Strategy & Development in a press release.
“This new partnership allows us to deepen our relationship with FOX, as we continue to explore new and creative ways to engage our passionate fanbase.”
Fans will be able to use Eluvio’s digital wallet to purchase collectible items using traditional currency or cryptocurrency. WWE continues to see opportunities in the NFT space as it launched its first NFTs earlier this year, which featured The Undertaker. Ahead of SummerSlam season earlier this year, WWE followed up with John Cena NFTs. Both NFT drops were in conjunction with Bitski.
WWE has already seen vast returns by monetizing its history through the WWE Network, which was leased to NBC’s Peacock last year in a billion-dollar deal. With the NFT industry on the rise, part of WWE’s strategy is to connect its countless historic moments—not to mention its nostalgic fanbase—to the sale of NFTs.
I’ve been a pro wrestling columnist and video blogger for a leading national sports website since 2010, and formerly of Bleacher Report, where I was a WWE columnist an
I’ve been a pro wrestling columnist and video blogger for a leading national sports website since 2010, and formerly of Bleacher Report, where I was a WWE columnist an host of the nearly 100-episode digital series WWE WTF. In 2012, I was featured in Bleacher Report’s “Why We Watch” documentary discussing the career of Kurt Angle. I graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a major in business economics, an emphasis in accounting and a minor in sports management.
I’ve been featured multiple times on NPR in addition to appearances on BBC and ESPN Radio. My expertise in pro wrestling includes covering countless WWE and independent wrestling events live, including six WrestleManias.
I created the Pro Wrestling Bits YouTube channel. Subscribe at bit.ly/deezbits
Follow me on Twitter @ThisIsNasty
While Hasbro’s Toys Were Stuck In Transit, Entertainment Properties Saved The Day
The Hasbro toy company’s Media Studios in Burbank, California. The toy manufacturer’s entertainment … [+]
The snarled supply chain cost toymaker Hasbro $100 million in unfilled orders during the third quarter, but the company still was able to increase revenues by 11%, thanks to the strength of its entertainment division.
The third-quarter results are a testament to the wisdom of late CEO Brian Goldner’s diversification strategy. Goldner, who died Oct. 11 after a long battle with cancer, outlined a blueprint for the company designed to transform it from a toy manufacturer to a fully-integrated entertainment, gaming, and consumer products company.
The third quarter results, reported today, with entertainment revenues up 76%, provided the best indication yet that Goldner engineered a winning strategy for the company.
“This is the beginning of the blueprint proving itself out in the world,” said Richard Stoddart, the Hasbro board member who is serving as interim CEO.
Investors apparently agree. The stock jumped more than 5% in pre-market trading after the earnings release, and remained up more than 5% during the first hour after the market opened.
Hasbro beat analysts estimates for earnings, matched revenue estimates, and said it expects full year revenue growth of between 13 to 16%.
Hasbro said it has the toy orders to meet or exceed the high end of that range, but that supply chain issues could depress sales in the fourth quarter.
Goldner, who continued to lead the company up until days before his death, was very much a presence on Hasbro’s earning conference call, with every analyst offering condolences and admiration for the deceased CEO before questioning executives about the financial results and succession plans.
Stoddart was named interim CEO on Oct. 10, when Hasbro announced Goldner was taking medical leave. Goldner died the next day.
Deborah Thomas, Hasbro’s chief financial officer, said Goldner, before he died, was proud of the company’s third quarter results, believing they showed the strength of the unique business model he and the company had created with bold acquisitions of entertainment properties.
Stoddart assured analysts that plans for naming a permanent CEO are “well underway.”
Like its top toy competitor Mattel, Hasbro has used its scale, resources and industry leverage to navigate around the supply chain roadblocks manufacturers are facing this holiday season. But Hasbro presented a slightly more cautious outlook about shipping and supply chain problems than Mattel, which reported its earnings last week.
The $100 million in unfilled third quarters orders caused consumer products revenue to decline by 3%. If those orders had been delivered, revenue in that category would have been up 5%, Thomas reported.
The majority of those missed orders all were delivered during the current fourth quarter, Thomas said. In September, Hasbro shipped the most volume domestically ever in a single month, she said.
Due to the supply chain crisis, Hasbro ended the third with fewer finished goods in inventory than typical and significantly more stuck in transit. Total transit times have nearly doubled, Thomas said, and in certain shipping channels transit times are as much as 50 days longer than pre-pandemic levels.
Like Mattel, Hasbro took steps early to mitigate risk including activating alternate ports in China and the United States and expanding shipping capacity.
Added freight and shipping costs caused Hasbro to raise toy prices. Those higher prices went into effect in most markets in August, and will be fully implemented in the fourth quarter.
I have 20 years experience covering the retail industry, from mega-malls to Main Street shops, and everything in between. I have reported on retail bankruptcies,
I have 20 years experience covering the retail industry, from mega-malls to Main Street shops, and everything in between. I have reported on retail bankruptcies, including Toys R Us and A&P; retail launches and turnarounds, and the phenomenon known as Paramus, N.J., which has more retail square footage per capita than any other suburban zip code in the country. (And no shopping on Sundays!) I previously covered retail for The Record of North Jersey, NorthJersey.com., USA Today, and the USA Today Network, and also reported for The Grand Rapids Press, and the Buffalo Courier-Express. I love covering the retail industry because of how quickly the winners and losers change, and how easy it is for today’s disruptors to become tomorrow’s dinosaurs if they don’t constantly evolve.
‘The Role That Women Can Play’ In Energy Today—Tips From Top Women At Deloitte
Woman in energy industry, from Power Magazine, … [+]
The pandemic has caused millions of people, especially women, to rethink their careers. It may have been stimulated by all that time working from home, or the shift to remote work opening up opportunities in any location, or homeschooling their kids for months while schools were closed, or the joy they found in hobbies or side hustles. It’s no wonder that a Bankrate survey found 55% of people say they are looking to change jobs over the next 12 months.
This is especially true among people who want to use their skills and talents to address climate change and/or socio-economic inequities. More opportunities are opening up in these areas than ever before.
There are few industries where this is more evident than in the energy sector. From the major oil and gas companies like BP and Shell announcing net zero goals, to government agencies and private companies creating new positions, nonprofits gaining more influence, to entrepreneurs birthing new solutions, and the investors stepping up to fund them, there are plenty of new ways to think about your career today.
And more shifts are on the way, as companies, institutions and countries gear up to seize opportunities in the new U.S. infrastructure bills and to meet commitments made at the big UN Climate Conference known as COP26 starting on November 1.
Various career paths graphic
So, where do you fit in amidst these changes?
What’s the best way to think about a career in energy today – especially as a woman in such a traditionally male-dominated field that’s being completely reinvented?
It may be hard to get your footing or to know exactly where you add value in all the chaos. Since energy companies and utilities cannot close for renovation like a restaurant can, this massive pivot is happening while they keep the power flowing. That makes it both exciting and confusing. It also opens up opportunities.
Kathryn Pavlovsky, head of Deloitte’s Energy, Resources & Industrials practice
As Kathryn Pavlovsky, head of Deloitte’s Energy, Resources and Industrials practice, told me on my Electric Ladies podcast recently, “What I am finding is that the pandemic has motivated women to appreciate their experiences, the contribution that they can make going forward, and whether they are currently in the best position to be driving forward with those.”
She and her colleague on the other side of the energy spectrum, Kristen Sullivan, head of Deloitte’s Sustainability and Supply Chain Compliance, gave valuable insight into how to think about your next career move.
“The ecosystem is evolving.” Here are five advice highlights from these top women:
· “What is the role that women can play in particular?”: Pavlovsky asks this provocative question. “Even within energy and on the topics of environmental, social, and governance, what is the role that women can play in particular, in moving forward that agenda and driving earlier results?” Studies have found that women focus on making a difference with their work more than men do. Women leaders want status and power, and also are want their curiosity and their idealism nurtured.
As both Pavlovsky and Sullivan point out, the shift to ESG – the environment, social and governance Pavlovsky referenced – enables women to work in energy and serve their idealism, depending upon how they do it.
Kristen Sullivan, Deloitte
· Apply your business competency “through a value-enhancing lens”: Sullivan emphasized something that a lot of people forget is the price of entry to a career: you have to be very good at something. Whether it’s finance, or marketing, or information technology, or human resources, or operations, for example, you need a core competency. Identify what you’re good at and then you can shift by “layering on a different perspective, whether it’s climate risk or societal considerations, to be able to deliver on that traditional competence but at such a higher level, and through that value-enhancing lens.”
· How can you do things differently?: Think about “what inspires you” and “what you love to do,” Pavlovsky explained, and then “coupling that with your experiences and then your relationship network,” can help you “think about: ‘how can I do things differently?’” I frame it to my coaching clients as putting the puzzle pieces of their skills, talents and experiences together in a new way to achieve their new goals.
(Photo credit should read PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images)
· Look at options across geographies: A key shift that Pavlovsky sees in the transition to an ESG-focused economy, and in the energy industry’s “accelerating digital transformation,” is that the energy industry needs new skills. As she put it, “The ecosystem is evolving,” and the need for those new skills opens doors to women and other traditionally under-represented talent, including the option to work remotely.
· Find people you want to know: There are likely people in your network, no matter how small it may seem, who know someone who knows someone who can give you insight into the new area you want to explore and help you access new opportunities. Ask, ask, ask! Being shy will not get you what you deserve.
Your competency helps you “deliver trust,” as Sullivan framed what Deloitte does, based in the auditor disciplines.
Then, applying the values lens, you can ask, “What higher purpose can we have than applying our skills, our training, our competence to…drive value into the future?”
Listen to Joan’s full interviews on Electric Ladies podcast with Kathryn Pavlovsky here and with Kristen Sullivan here.
Joan Michelson is a career coach, dynamic public speaker and host of the acclaimed podcast Electric Ladies (formerly known as Green Connections Radio) of fascinating
Joan Michelson is a career coach, dynamic public speaker and host of the acclaimed podcast Electric Ladies (formerly known as Green Connections Radio) of fascinating interviews with women innovators in energy, climate and sustainability. @joanmichelson or electricladiespodcast.com
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