Oilfield firm ProPetro Holding Corp. on June 2 estimated there are 20 hydraulic fracturing fleets running in the Permian Basin shale field, marking a sharp decline as oil prices have dropped 41% this year.
A year ago, as many as 172 fleets were running in the largest U.S. oil field, according to data from consultancy Primary Vision. Oil and gas companies have cut spending and production as prices cratered following the COVID-19 pandemic and a short-lived price war between major producers that led to a global oil glut.
ProPetro said it expected to have three to four hydraulic fracturing fleets fully working this quarter, from nearly 19 last quarter. Hydraulic fracturing pumps water, chemicals and sand into wells to released trapped oil and gas.
While the recent rebound in oil prices to around $36/bbl, up about $16 since early May, has some companies restarting activity, ProPetro CEO Phillip Gobe warned current pricing remains unprofitable for service firms.
"I would caution everyone, activity could pick up, but it may not be profitable activity," he told investors during its first quarter earnings call on Tuesday. "If you see others activity picking up ahead of us, it might be more of how they're pricing their equipment to go to work."
The company said it had reduced its workforce by over 65% since March.
“After exploring all strategic and financial options available to Rosehill,” CEO David French said the company agreed to a restructuring plan with its major creditors, which includes filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, .
Exxon Mobil last quarter cut oil production by up to 400,000 bbl/d and capex by 30%, much of it in its shale business.
Court rulings over disputes with midstream operators are no longer easy to predict.