Since the collapse in oil prices began in the middle of last year, all eyes have been on how the oil industry responds. Already, some $200 billion of projects have been either axed or deferred, mostly because they cannot compete on costs.
The US shale oil industry is also suffering. This graph below from industry analysts Baker Hughes shows the dramatic fall in the number of rigs operating in the US shale industry.
In just three months, the rig count has fallen by 24 per cent, or 389 from the all-time high of 1,609 recorded for the week of 10 October last year. As Mark Lewis, from Paris-based analysts Kepler Chevreux notes: “In all of the historical Baker Hughes data stretching back to July, 1987, there is no precedent for a drop of this speed or severity.”
So, what does this mean?