Oil prices shed an eye-watering 30% through to Monday, reaching per-barrel pricing levels that imperil corporate and sovereign balance sheets the world over. Yet nowhere is the immediate danger more pronounced than in a US shale industry that was already undergoing a wave of bankruptcies and restructuring. Two factors are fueling the rout: 1) demand-side pressures of a seemingly inevitable COVID-triggered recession; and 2) the prospect of a supply-side glut following a breakdown in talks concerning an OPEC+ supply cut.
Now we’re in a race-for-the-bottom as low-cost producers prepare to inundate markets in the hope of securing market share for better days ahead. But this is one race that US energy players are not going to win.