Big Oil’s shale revival prompts industry doubts: Fuel for Thought

Oil and gas majors have brushed themselves off after the industrywide downturn and are back on their feet trying to mimic the success of smaller companies in US shale. But many doubters still question whether Big Oil is up to the task after failing at earlier attempts in such plays. The setbacks to global majors’ shale efforts earlier in the decade were well-publicized. Several invested heavily in shale gas before prices collapsed, as more nimble rivals charged into liquids-rich plays. Shell shared in the pain with a $2 billion write-down in 2013 and is among the majors persisting in shale plays. The company plans to more than double its Permian Basin output by 2020 to 200,000 b/d of oil equivalent, with just a third of production being crude and the rest lower-value gas and gas liquids. Upstream director Andy Brown said in August that Shell had the ability to be a “top shales player.” Other majors recently made investments to grow their shale footprint. BP CEO Bob Dudley said last month his company’s Lower 48 unit, focused on shale, would “work magic” on the assets it bought from miner BHP for $10.5 billion, and ExxonMobil has also declared lofty goals… continue reading

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