What Investors Need to Know About a 2017 U.S. Oil And Gas Production Resurgence

By Motley Fool Staff Markets Fool.com

Last week, investment bankBarclays (NYSE: BCS)predicted notable growth in the U.S. oil and gas industry this year.

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In this clip from Industry Focus: Energy, Motley Fool analysts Sean O'Reilly and Taylor Muckerman go over the most important numbers from the report and what they mean, put them in context of the last several years, and talk about where the rest of the world is expected to perform in 2017.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This podcast was recorded on Jan. 12, 2017.

Sean O'Reilly: You sent me a great article that covered a report put out by Barclays, the investment bank. U.S. oil and gas drilling to lead to 2017 global growth. Not surprising because OPEC literally told everybody, "Hi, we want higher oil prices." We're not at $27 a barrel anymore like it touched down at last February, we're at the low 50s. I was interested to see what they were talking about in the report. They talked about how U.S. production led by the oil majors, in terms of capital spending, likely to go up just under 60%.

Taylor Muckerman: Hi Ho silver.

O'Reilly: Wow. Keep in mind, also, that they were at post WWII lows of all time last year, so this is not crazy. Spending will increase 700% worldwide. This was the other cool statistic -- spending dropped by 38% last year by U.S. shale drillers.

Muckerman: Yeah, that's U.S. shale. Globally, it dropped 23% last year, following a 25% drop in 2015. So, you lopped off a quarter of spending in 2015, and then you lopped off another quarter on top of that in 2016. It's a complete reversal.

O'Reilly: The headline number that I started off with sounds big, but really, if you lose 50% of your money, you have to double it to get it back.

Muckerman: Yeah. They're not doubling it. They're not getting back to where they were in 2013-2014. But they're trying.

O'Reilly: Yeah. International drilling only increased 2%. National oil companies, like those in Russia and the Middle East, plan to spend 9% more, and this was offset by 7% decline in European companies.

Muckerman: That's backwards, because Russia and the Middle East are supposed to be cutting production, but they're going to spend more.

O'Reilly: This is suspicious, what's going on here?

Muckerman: Makes me stroke my beard, thinking about that.

O'Reilly: When it says "European," is this basically Totaland BP?

Muckerman: When you think about Europe and the cost curve, a lot of European production comes offshore in the North Sea.

O'Reilly: That's just naturally declining.

Muckerman: Well, that, and it's higher up on the cost curve. And then, even shallow water in the European Union, you're looking at around $71 breakeven. So it's really high up there on the cost curve, it's out there past Brazilian deep water, it's out there past Canadian oil sands. The only thing I think that might be more expensive is West African offshore production. That's probably why the E.U. is seeing a decline, because A, the North Sea is difficult, and you're having to push out the risk curve --

O'Reilly: But the weather is so nice out there.

Muckerman: -- because they've been drilling there for so long that the low-hanging fruit has pretty much all been pumped. And then, like I said, the price curve you see, it's just more expensive, and it's not profitable right now.

O'Reilly: Can we define that for the layman? What is the cost curve, the price curve, that you're referring to?

Muckerman: It's just the average break-even cost per barrel to produce in a certain region.

O'Reilly: And, obviously, that varies on planet Earth.

Muckerman: Yeah, it does. You look at, I think the cheapest in the United States might be the Wolfcamp in the Permian, which is around $39 a barrel, so quite profitable now.

O'Reilly: Does that include buying the land, or the lease?

Muckerman: I think the breakeven is just going to be the drilling activity to pump it out.

O'Reilly: OK. So, buying the land, you would need $50-60 to make it economical.

Muckerman: Yeah, I don't know the exact math, but once you own it, they're making money on the drilling alone right now. Then, you have the Eagle Ford breakeven at around $48 a barrel. Onshore OPEC around $40 a barrel. Then, Canadian oil sands, $54. So you have from $39-71 between the Permian and European shallow water.

Sean O'Reilly has no position in any stocks mentioned. Taylor Muckerman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Total. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.