[Editor’s note: Opinions expressed by the author are their own.]

America’s shale sector grew famous in the past decade for two big achievements: spectacular production growth and a stunning ability to destroy shareholder value. Its executives say those days are over. But breaking old habits will be hard.

Despite a price crash in 2015, American crude output over the period soared, transforming the country’s oil business and shaking global geopolitics from Riyadh to Caracas. Wall Street came along for the ride. In just 10 years to 2018, shale producers gobbled up more than $400 billion of investors’ capital, according to consultancy Rystad, using the proceeds to drill and frack tens of thousands of wells from West Texas to eastern Montana.

Management teams have made bundles; shareholders, not so much.

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