Impact of COVID-19 on U.S. Shale Gas in Chemical Industry
Shale gas and shale oil are defined as natural gas & oil from shale formations. Shale is a type of sedimentary rock that is made up of very small clay particles and is highly porous in nature. It is formed in deep ocean water, lagoons, wetlands, and swamps where the water is still enough for extremely fine clay and silt particles to settle to the bottom.
Since shale is a porous formation, it serves as both a source and a reservoir for unconventional hydrocarbons. The extraction of oil and gas from a shale formation involves mechanical stimulation. One such technique for stimulation is hydraulic fracturing or fracking. In the fracking process, cracks in and below the Earth's surface are opened and widened by injecting water, chemicals, and sand at high pressure. The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking has made it possible to access vast quantities of shale gas that were previously uneconomical to generate. Natural gas output from shale deposits has given the United States natural gas industry a new lease on life.
The demand for safe access to energy sources is growing globally. Shale oil and gas have played an important role in meeting global energy demand during the energy revolution and are expected to continue to do so for decades as society transitions to lower-carbon energy sources. The rapid growth of shale oil and gas contributes to increased supply stability and lower commodity prices.
According to the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), in the year 2011, the country’s estimated available natural gas resources totaled 2,552 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). Natural gas from shale deposits, which was once considered to be uneconomical, accounted for 827 Tcf of this resource total. In the year 2020, U.S. dry shale gas production was about 26 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), and equal to about 78% of total U.S. dry natural gas production.
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON U.S. SHALE INDUSTRY
Shale oil and gas exploration have, in particular, given the US oil and gas industry new dimensions of development. It has also fueled significant investment in associated infrastructure for gathering, storing, and delivering hydrocarbons to both domestic and foreign markets. In less than a decade, the US shale industry turned the global energy landscape upside down and re-established the US as the global energy leader. The onset of a global pandemic and subsequent drop in oil prices, on the other hand, has taken the momentum out of the shale boom. Due to a sudden drop in demand, the shale industry has immediately self-corrected.
Many oil and gas players succumbed to the economic shock resulted from the CoVID-19 and filed for bankruptcy. Chesapeake Energy, a shale leader and once second-largest gas producer in the United States, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late June. According to the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), the crude-oil output from seven major shale formations in the United states fell by around 56,000 barrels per day (BPD) in August 2020 to just under 7.5 million BPD, which would be the lowest level in two years.
The shale industry is closely looped in with the oil and gas industry. The recent downfall of the oil and gas industry during the pandemic has had a severe impact on shale output. Post pandemic, the shale industry peaked, but the industry as a whole lost money. Since 2010, the US shale industry has produced USD 300 billion in net negative free cash flows, damaged more than USD 450 billion in invested capital, and seen more than 190 bankruptcies. With the advent of the coronavirus, the future for shale producers has become even bleaker, with a new bankruptcy filing occurring every week or so in the last few months.
The pandemic's effects will be felt far beyond the US shale industry. Despite accounting for less than 10% of global oil and gas output, US shale oil extraction activity accounts for 40% of global shale oil extraction activity and accounts for nearly 100% of the growth in US midstream and export-oriented refining and petrochemical sectors over the last decade.
STRATEGIC INITIATIVES DURING COVID-19
· Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed on a continuation of March production levels for the month of April, with the exception of Russia and Kazakhstan, which will be authorized to increase production by 130,000 and 20,000 barrels per day, respectively, at their most recent meeting
· Saudi Arabia has also agreed to extend its one-million-barrel-per-day voluntary cut for the month of April.
· Companies such as Chevron, Shell, Schlumberger, and others have taken initiatives to safeguard their workforce in the ongoing pandemic situation.
On Conclusion, the pandemic has placed the shale industry in a delicate spot as major players are forced to cut down the output. The potential energy landscape in the United States and around the world is highly complex, and its drivers are interconnected. In the not-too-distant future, a wave of consolidation in the US shale industry could be triggered by the poor financial position of many firms and the weak economic outlook.
The continuous demand for a ban on fracking, coupled with the effect of COVID, has cracked the shale industry severely. Although, the historic evidence indicates that the shale producers operate more economically. In comparison to 2019, producers in the Permian Basin are saving roughly 20% on good costs.