The US shale gas story is a “gold rush” that will lead to ruin for many.

So argues Art Berman in an ASPO2012 lecture. The biggest problem is the high and unexpected decline rates in shale wells. “Once you start drilling shale wells you can never stop.” Berman is describing a ponzi scheme, though he doesn’t say as much. “Shale plays are not a renaissance or a revolution. They are a retirement party.” An industry is “self destructing.” The cost to maintain production, requiring as it does more and more wells at higher and higher cost, is astronomical. Most of the companies involved are paying way more on capex than they generate in cash flow. Many of them are in serious financial trouble already. It seems that Berman is the ONLY analyst within the industry questioning the orthodoxy.

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