The big oil-and-gas exploration boom is over for the time being on account of slumping prices. But busts have their upside.
“The big bonanza is over,” said Jay Ewing, the completion and construction manager for Devon Energy in the Barnett Shale field here, where so far this year his company has brought its rig count from 35 to 8. “Everyone is really shocked how fast everything has turned.”
Energy experts and company executives warn that oil and gas companies now cutting back on investments will be unable to respond quickly to a future economic recovery. John Richels, Devon’s president, said that if the slump lasted two years, it could then take 18 to 24 months for companies to reassemble rig crews.
That means a glut could rapidly turn to scarcity, sending energy prices soaring again. Already, experts are predicting that lower domestic gas production by the end of the year will require increased imports of liquefied natural gas from places like Qatar.