U.S. shale firms cut budgets, staff as oil-price outlook dims

ODESSA, Texas (Reuters) – Oil producers and their suppliers are cutting budgets, staffs and production goals amid a growing consensus of forecasts that oil and gas prices will stay low for several years. The U.S. has 904 working rigs, down 14% from a year ago, and even that is probably too many, estimated Harold Hamm, chief executive of shale producer Continental Resources (CLR.N), which has reduced the number of rigs at work. Bankruptcy filings by U.S. energy producers through mid-August this year have nearly matched the total for the whole of 2018. A stock index of oil and gas producers hit an all-time low in August, a sign investors are expecting more trouble ahead. “You’re going to see activity drop across the industry,” Earl Reynolds, CEO of Chaparral Energy (CHAP.N), told Reuters at the EnerCom oil and gas conference last month. The Oklahoma energy firm has slashed its workforce by nearly a quarter, trimmed its spending plan by 5%, and agreed to sell its headquarters and use some of the proceeds to reduce debt. Investment bank Cowen & Co estimated last month that oil-and-gas producers spent 56% of their 2019 budgets through June, based on its review of 48 U.S.… continue reading

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