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Bakken Monitor – July 2017 Limits to Growth

Though more flexible than other sources of production, we argue LTO's ability to regulate production short-term is more limited than generally realised. North Dakota's oil production rose to 1.051 million b/d (+25,000 b/d m-o-m) in April, above our forecast, as older wells outperformed. We estimate higher May production as capex increases start to lift completions. As prices have fallen, analysts and journalists are beginning to question the ability of LTO to grow as strongly as many have predicted, further supported by the EIA revising production down in line with our previous arguments. We have identified two “limits to growth” risk factors for US LTO: capital availability and refinery demand. In the short term, most operators will spend their allocated budgets. We see capital only constraining growth from 2018, and only if creditors change their attitudes, while refinery demand may provide a firmer limit on long term growth....

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