Two years into the worst oil price rout in a generation, large and mid-sized U.S. independent producers are surviving and eyeing growth again as oil nears 50 a barrel, confounding OPEC and Saudi Arabia with their resiliency. That shale giants Hess Corp (HES.N), Apache Corp (APA.N) and more than 25 other companies have beaten back OPEC's attempt to sideline them would have been unthinkable just months ago, when oil plumbed 26 a barrel and collapses were feared. To regain market share, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in late 2014 pumped more oil despite growing global oversupply. It aimed to drive prices lower and force higher-cost producers out of the market, with shale oil seen as especially vulnerable. Industry revenue fell more than 30 percent in 2015 from the previous year, the U.S. drilling rig count dropped by more than 70 percent from when oil was still above 100 per barrel, stock valuations plunged and scores of small producers filed for bankruptcy.
A natural gas fired turbine, manufactured by Caterpillar Inc. subsidiary Solar Turbines Inc., runs a compressor at a Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of MDU Resources Group Inc., natural gas compression station in Bismarck, North Dakota. In the world of oil and natural gas, engineers, geologists, and drilling and production departments tend to get the lion's share of the credit when good things happen, and most of the blame when they don't. That's fair, given the crucial roles these groups of employees play within the thousands of companies that make up the U.S. oil and gas industry. But in recent years, as overall domestic production has risen at a pace no one could have foreseen even five years ago, the credit has begun to shift. These human resources remain indispensable to the success of any company, but the deployment of a raft of advancing technologies has played an ever-advancing role over time in enabling companies to maximize recoveries and profits.
Exxon Mobil Corp. says it plans to spend $20 billion over 10 years on refineries, chemical and liquefied natural gas plants along the Gulf Coast. Chairman and Chief Executive Darren Woods said Monday that the company would expand current plants and build new ones, mostly designed to create petroleum products for export. Woods said the work would create 12,000 permanent jobs -- Exxon currently has about 71,000 employees -- and 35,000 construction jobs. Exxon said that the investments began in 2013 and that the facilities will be in Texas and Louisiana. The sum of $20 billion would be roughly equal to Exxon's total capital spending last year.
The United States has overtaken industry giants Saudi Arabia and Russia in recoverable oil reserves, an international study released Monday says. The U.S. is sitting on 264 billion barrels, 8 billion barrels more than Russia and 52 billion more than Saudi Arabia, the dominant member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), according to the report by Rystad Energy, a respected oil and gas consulting firm based in Oslo. Three years ago, the U.S. was behind Russia, Saudi Arabia and Canada in Rystad's estimates of recoverable oil -- barrels that are technologically and economically feasible to extract. "It is an encouraging study," said Saeed Irani, president of Irani Engineering, a Sacramento company that is one of the state's leaders in oil field operations. "It shows that even though our economy is so vast and diverse, oil is still going to play a big part in it."