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Big Oil Continues to Exit US Arctic Drilling Rights

The crude carnage is still haunting investor wealth in various corners of the globe. The latest setback came from one of the safest pockets in the sector – that of the integrated behemoths also known as big oil. Per an article by Bloomberg, after setting aside approximately $2.5 billion for drilling rights in the U.S. Arctic waters, a host of energy majors are now exiting the area. The list of quitters over the past months includes the likes of Royal Dutch Shell plc RDS.A, ConocoPhillips COP, Eni SpA E and Chevron Corporation CVX.

The biggest question is: what made the energy majors stop their operations when the Arctic area, which is still unexplored, has huge oil potential? In fact, the U.S. Arctic is estimated to hold 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

However, owing to the region’s huge operating expenses and excessive regulatory hurdles pertaining to environmental issues, the energy players do not find it feasible to carry on this operation, especially when oil price has been weak for a prolonged period. The move is sound for the oil and gas industry, which is battered by a long stretch of low commodity prices and has little incentive to vigorously tap new areas.

But has the energy majors taken the right decision to quit the operation? The answer lies in oil price which has seen a sharp fall since mid-2014. However, as of now, oil is showing signs of early recovery. A ray of hope could be seen on Wednesday when the U.S. Energy Department's latest inventory release showed crude inventories falling for the first time since March. The agency reported that crude inventories fell 3.4 million barrels last week compared with analysts' expectation of an increase of 714,000 barrels. This was mainly due to concerns over supply outage in Canada and Nigeria. Further support was lent by the Baker Hughes Inc. BHI report that showed another drop in oil-directed rigs – now at their lowest level – indicating a break in shale drilling activities.

Over the longer run investors may find it interesting that the same agency expects Brent to improve to $76 a barrel in 2017 on steady growth in demand.

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BAKER-HUGHES (BHI): Free Stock Analysis Report
CHEVRON CORP (CVX): Free Stock Analysis Report
ROYAL DTCH SH-A (RDS.A): Free Stock Analysis Report
ENI SPA-ADR (E): Free Stock Analysis Report
CONOCOPHILLIPS (COP): Free Stock Analysis Report
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