Are US Shale Oil Companies Stuck in a Debt Spiral? | Money Flow Index

The debt that fueled the U.S. shale boom now threatens to become its own undoing. Drillers are devoting most of their revenue than ever towards interest payments which is being seen as a huge negative. One of the biggest examples in the sector is Continental Resources Inc., the company which has to its credit the Baken oil field considered to be one of the largest shale oil fields in the world, spent most of its revenues towards interest payments. Interest payments are eating up more than 10 percent of revenue for 27 of the 62 drillers in a recently conducted industry survey which  is up from a dozen a year ago. According to many estimates, drillers’ debt ballooned to $235 billion at the end of the first quarter, which is an approximate 16  percent increase in the past year, even as revenue shrank across the board.It is imperative to state that the sharp decline in oil prices since November last year has meant that many of the shale gas companies have been forced to shut oil rigs across the United States. Many analysts on the street believe that one of the biggest reasons for the current debacle is the fact that most companies in the shale gas arena have spent much more than what they earn even when oil was at $100 per barrel.  Looking at most balance sheets of companies, it is easy to understand that the cash flows for most companies have dried up and are unable to service the massive debt which is a cause for concern.Companies have also started spending less in order to cope with lower prices but this could lead to a sharp decline in production which would hurt revenues going forward. It is important to state that oil and gas companies made up for close to one third of the total corporate debt defaults worldwide this year.

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