Can oil come right back up? Is this whole move down temporary? Let me tell you why I think it is longer lasting than most think. You have to read the fine print, and you will know why. We have had three independent oil companies come out in the last few days talking about big capital expenditure cuts. They are all being noticed and hailed as a sign that the oil boom in this country is over.
But then you if you read the companies' statements you will know that whatever glut you think is going to be cleared up quickly, can't possibly be done so, because of the production figures that are already being slated for 2015.
Yesterday, for example, both Concho (CXO) and Sanchez (SN) announced pretty darned drastic cuts to their drilling budgets. Concho had planned to spend $3 billion on drilling this year, a giant amount, and it slashed it all the way down to $2 billion. But how about on the production side? It actually RAISED its production growth, between 16% and 20%. That's right, raised it.
Sanchez, which two years ago brought some prime Eagle Ford South Texas acreage from Hess for $265 million in cash, announced a huge capital budget slash, from an original $1.15 billion to between $400 million and $450 million. But it is still looking for 40% growth in production for 2015.
Continental (CLR), if you recall, started this whole budget bludgeoning when it went from $4.6 billion to $2.7 billion in capital expenditures. But it, too, upped its production growth from 16% to 20% for this year.
How in heck can oil go up in price if you cut your capital expenditures, pare back your drilling and yet still tack on huge increases to production? You can tell that these companies are just pulling rigs and switching them to their money properties, the ones where the costs are so low that they still make money. Remember, the trick here is that the cost of drilling has gone down a lot, the competition for more workers has just diminished, the days it takes to drill are far fewer than even a year ago and there are plenty of Permian and Eagle Ford properties that are economic, particularly given how bountiful the distribution infrastructure is.
It's not just on-shore. Remember the drilling pause in the Gulf of Mexico after Macondo? We are just now starting to see the fruits of the aftermath of that pause as Chevron (CVX) and Hess (HES) bring on some gigantic wells including the huge Tubular Bells field, once a BP (BP) project, that has just now started pumping oil.
These are gigantic wells, much bigger and longer-lived than shale wells, and you can expect to see the Gulf adding another couple hundred thousand barrels a day to production in this country, perhaps as early as this year. You can take out a ton of on shore production, but these high-quality wells will make up for it. In other words, 2015 is shaping up to be a HUGE production year in this country; bigger than 2014.
And that's why you can't get all that bullish on oil, even if you think that demand returns. Our own country's production isn't stalling, it isn't being slashed; it's increasing, and increasing at alarming rate if you are someone trying to market your product to a world that is dreadfully oversupplied before this production growth even hits pay dirt.