Capital continues to flow uninterrupted into US shale fields despite pressure from some investors who want drillers to focus on profits and returns rather than production growth. Funding for energy projects from private equity firms rose 36% from last year to $20.26 billion in the first three quarters of 2017, and US oil and natural gas initial public offerings drew $2.93 billion so far this year, up from $1.52 billion in 2016 as a whole.
BHP Billiton has enlisted Barclays, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi and Goldman Sachs to help it prepare for its early 2018 US shale exit. BHP will either sell the assets or spin them off into a new company.
The Energy Information Administration expects US oil production to climb by 780,000 barrels per day to a record 10.02 million barrels per day in 2018 -- outpacing the agency's previous prediction for a 720,000-barrel-per-day increase. Additionally, the EIA sees US oil prices averaging $57 per barrel in 2018, up from the $55-per-barrel forecast last month.
Mining and minerals firm Unimin has agreed to buy Ohio-based frac sand supplier Fairmount Santrol Holdings in a cash-and-stock deal that would give rise to a combined entity with about $2 billion in annual revenue and the ability to supply more than 45 million tons of sand per year.
Kalnin Ventures will buy $105 million worth of Marcellus Shale assets in Pennsylvania from Warren Resources. The acquisition in Wyoming County includes 35 producing wells and 23 proven and undeveloped well sites.
US onshore drilling permit issuances could hit 5,000 in December -- the highest monthly level of this year -- if oil prices maintain their gains, according to investment bank Evercore ISI. The number of drilling permits issued in the first eight days of December reached 2,460, with New Mexico leading the gains.
House and Senate lawmakers are near agreement on a final tax bill that would set the corporate tax rate at 21%, well below the current 35% but slightly higher than the 20% in separate bills approved by each chamber. Negotiators are discussing replacing the top individual tax rate of 39.6% with 37%.
US natural gas prices could face some pressure from rising natural gas production, which is expected to rise to an average of 78.82 billion cubic feet per day for the full year and reach 85.53 billion cubic feet per day for 2018, according to the Energy Information Administration. "Increased takeaway capacity from Appalachia is expected to result in increased natural gas production in the coming months and could limit significant upward price pressure, although colder-than-normal temperatures throughout the rest of 2017 could contribute to price increases," the EIA said.