The near-mythic status of the U.S. shale revolution has long been rooted in the premise that North America’s huge arsenal of wells could sway the world’s markets and break the rules set by the all-powerful OPEC pact.

The truth is that shale inventories are already beginning to shrink. The persistent pounding of E&Ps by the market and the ongoing frailty of commodity prices have cut economic support out from under drilling programs that were designed to pack as many wells as possible into a section.

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