Upstream operators that released 2015 preliminary capital budgets a few months before the year-end holidays have returned to the surgical table for more fiscal liposuction on already slender frames. Despite this, they and other producers insist they can continue to grow oil production this year, and for some, growth will be in the double-digits.
Last week alone, small producers Halcon Resources, Sanchez Energy and Concho Resources all slashed projected 2015 capital spending by 48%, 29% and 33%, respectively. In some cases this was the second revision from preliminary figures announced before oil prices began their steep descent to current levels below $50/b.
They are not alone. Even the bigger players such as Continental Resources, a big Bakken Shale producer, said in late December its capex would be 41% lower than contemplated in early November when prices were still in the high $70s/b range, while ConocoPhillips will shave 20% off its budget compared to last year.
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