Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

The US shale boom has run into refining and transportation bottlenecks, severely limiting the industry’s ability to tap increasing global demand.

The problem has weighed on shares of Permian Basin producers, such as Diamondback, Cimarex, and Concho, which have all had to sell oil at a substantial discount to account for increased transportation costs.

“When you’re forced to truck barrels about 500 miles to the Gulf Coast — yes, that’s as inefficient as it sounds — the price differential ‘blows out’ to levels seen recently,” Raymond James & Associates analysts wrote in a Tuesday note, as reported by Bloomberg last week.

Research from Goldman Sachs found that the capacity constraints are set to continue well into next year. A key contributor to the bottleneck will be the shortage of truck drivers.

Source: Goldman Sachs

Goldman estimates that an additional three thousand to four thousand trucks will be needed before the end of this year. With the US already facing a shortage of truck drivers, something has to give.

HFI research says that Permian well completions will need to slow.

“Producers with no available takeaway capacity in the coming months will even have to shut-in production. This will go towards the smaller Permian E&Ps as opposed to the bigger players like Pioneer and Diamondback. But the issue will remain at least until the end of 2019 because the additional increase in pipeline takeaway capacity won’t be online until the fourth quarter of 2019,” the analysts wrote in an article published this week.

“At HFI Research, we have avoided Permian names for two reasons: 1) valuation and 2) our belief that tier 1 acreages are not as infinite as sell-side thinks. The valuation concern was our biggest worry given that Permian was the only bright spot to survive the “lower for longer” theme and all of sell-side was bullish the Permian, Permian E&Ps traded at a premium to the rest of the energy sector.”