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reduction possible de 400 000 b/d aux USA

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Source FT

1 puit sur 5 aux USA produit moins de 15 b/d
il se peut que 4 45$/b les puis soient arretes conduisant à une baisse de 400 000b/d

en 98, la baisse à 10$ avait attere 77% des puits conduisant à 800 000 b/d de baisse (12% de la prod) et conduisant à la crise de 2008...

Smaller US gas and oil groups cap their wells
By Carola Hoyos in London and Sheila McNulty in Houston

Published: March 13 2009 02:00 | Last updated: March 13 2009 02:00

When Duke Ligon, who owns a minerals company in Oklahoma, recently received his monthly payment from one of the small oil and gas producers drilling on his land, he was taken aback.

The $15,000 cheque he had come to expect had dwindled to $5,000. "This really caught my eye,'' Mr Ligon said. "They're laying down their drilling rigs like crazy."

The collapse in both oil and gas prices has prompted small oil and gas producers to limit the money they put into stimulating their wells. Some are shutting down production in a move that could put upward pressure on oil prices.

In 1998, similar shutdowns in US production were among the factors that sowed the seeds of the oil shortage and the dramatic run-up in oil prices that reached its peak last summer and helped tip the world into recession.

One in five barrels of oil pumped from wells in the US, the world's fourthlargest oil producer, comes from fields producing fewer than 15 barrels a day. In fact, analysts at Sanford Bernstein forecast the slide in oil prices, from $147 a barrel in July to about $42 today, could force so many of them to slow or shutter their operations that the daily volume of oil produced on land in the US will drop by 400,000 barrels by next year. That is a loss of the equivalent of Argentina's daily oil consumption.

Adding the natural production decline of the US's older fields to the equation results in an overall decrease in US onshore production of more than 700,000 barrels a day, they say.

This would represent the single largest recent decline in the oil production of any country except Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer and leader of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries'cartel. As part of Opec's policy to boost prices, the kingdom has reduced its oil output voluntarily by more than 1.5m barrels a day.

On Sunday, Opec will meet in Vienna to decide whether to make further voluntary cutbacks to keep oil prices from falling. One big factor informing its decision will be the cartel's view on how steeply oil production from small US players will decline.

Opec's strong adherence to the voluntary cuts it began last year has helped stem the dramatic fall in oil prices. Traders' expectation that fields such as those in the US would have to be shut down if they became uneconomical have also contributed, making the cartel's difficult job a little easier.

The traders' expectation is grounded in experience. In 1998, when the Asian financial crisis pushed oil prices to below $10 a barrel, the US oil rig count dropped 77 per cent in 24 months and production fell 800,000 barrels a day, or 12 per cent.

The situation for US producers was so bad that Washington, usually one of Opec's most vocal opponents, lobbied the cartel to cut back more of its production to boost prices.

This time round the US onshore rig count is down 38 per cent in just four months, suggesting a swifter and steeper production loss this time, according to Sanford Bernstein.

Not everyone agrees with Sanford Bernstein's analysis. Adam Sieminski, analyst at Deutsche Bank, takes a more guarded view. "Overall, our conclusion is that in the short term oil prices would likely have to fall to $20 a barrel and below before non-Opec was at risk of shutting in a significant amount of production." he says.

The US is not the only place where projects are being affected by the low oil price. Jon Rigby, analyst at UBS, the investment bank, calculates that 75 per cent of production that needs to come on stream between 2012 and 2015 to meet future demand needs an oil price of $60 a barrel to break even.

He says that as many as 13m barrels a day of global oil and gas production that was due to come to the market in the next seven years has been delayed.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

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