The Secret of the Great American Fracking Bubble – Debt

This article discusses the debt that the fracking industry has amassed.

The Wall Street Journal reported that “energy companies [since 2007] have spent $280 billion more than they generated from operations on shale investments, according to advisory firm Evercore ISI.”

As a whole, the American fracking experiment has been a financial disaster for many of its investors, who have been plagued by the industry’s heavy borrowing, low returns, and bankruptcies, and the path to becoming profitable is lined with significant potential hurdles. Up to this point, the industry has been drilling the “sweet spots” in the country’s major shale formations, reaching the easiest and most valuable oil first.

But at the same time energy companies are borrowing more money to drill more wells, the sweet spots are drying up, creating a Catch-22 as more drilling drives more debt.

“You have to keep drilling,” David Hughes, a geoscientist and fellow specializing in shale gas and oil production at the Post Carbon Institute, told DeSmog. But he also noted that with most of the sweet spots already drilled, producers are forced to move to less productive areas.

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