HOUSTON, June 15 (UPI) -- The deepest cuts in spending in the oil sector are coming out of the shale basins in the Lower 48 U.S. states, an analysis from Wood Mackenzie found.
A report published Wednesday by consultant group Wood Mackenzie said global spending on exploration and production, known as the upstream sector, is down 22 percent, or $740 billion, since mid-2014, when crude oil prices started moving below $100 per barrel.
Malcolm Dickson, a principal analyst for Wood Mackenzie, said nearly every country with a strong production base has seen spending move lower during the market downturn.
"The deepest are in the U.S. Lower 48, where forecast capital investment has halved in 2016-17, falling by $125 billion," he said in an emailed statement.
Crude oil prices are up 70 percent from their low point for the year, but still less than half what they were two years ago. In response, Wood Mackenzie said companies are spending less on upstream activity or canceling projects altogether.
The near-term prospects are grim, with spending forecast to drop by 30 percent, or $370 billion, through next year.
In the Middle East, spending won't fall off as dramatically. Saudi Arabia, the consultant group said, has no plans to curb investments in upstream activity through 2017. The de facto leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Saudi Arabia has let market conditions and robust output dictate the price of oil, a move that creates headwinds for operators in the more expensive shale basins in the United States.
The latest forecast from the U.S. Energy Information Administration finds total crude oil production for 2016 to average 8.6 million barrels per day and then drop off to 8.2 million bpd next year. The average level last year was 9.4 million bpd.
Wood Mackenzie said spending cuts means the loss of about 3 percent of total production this year and another 4 percent by next year, with onshore United States accounting for about 70 percent of the total decline.