Finances of Fracking: Shale Industry Drills More Debt Than Profit

Since 2007, the oil and gas industry has lost $280 billion betting on the shale boom, which has been made possible by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and Wall Street financing, and these companies are still borrowing heavily. But even as the industry struggles to recoup costs — much less profits — by continuing to borrow and drill, the great promise of the shale revolution is also threatened by another specter: declining production at each well.

In this series, DeSmog’s Justin Mikulka and Sharon Kelly investigate the finances of the fracking industry and how falling fossil fuel output and questionable lending practices reminiscent of the mid-2000s housing bubble may be setting up another bubble, one with a bill that may ultimately be paid by American taxpayers and the planet.

Image: Wyoming's Jonah gas field is marked by a network of well pads, roads, and pipelines. Credit: Bruce Gordon, EcoFlight, CC BY 2.0

In this series

Stock market numbers over oil drill pumpjack
Most people probably aren’t familiar with the acronym ZIRP. It stands for zero interest rate policy...
By Justin Mikulka, 11 May, 2018
Solar panels and oil pumpjack
About a half decade ago, as the shale drilling rush was sweeping across the U.S., drillers needed...
By Sharon Kelly, 6 May, 2018
Wall Street sign
The U.S. shale oil industry hailed as a “revolution” has burned through a quarter trillion dollars...
By Justin Mikulka, 4 May, 2018
A Scrabble board spells out 'Bankruptcy' overlaid on an unconventional oil and gas rig
EOG Resources is one of the top companies in the fracking industry, and thanks to the new tax bill...
By Justin Mikulka, 26 Apr, 2018
Gas pump
Shale oil, which the Energy Information Administration projects will represent a rising proportion...
By Sharon Kelly, 24 Apr, 2018
Balmorhea State Park with views of oil and gas well flares
If you ask the CEO of Apache Corp., his company made in 2016 the kind of once-in-a-lifetime find...
By Sharon Kelly, 19 Apr, 2018
Natural gas drilling well pad in Wyoming
In 2008, Aubrey McClendon was the highest paid Fortune 500 CEO in America, a title he earned taking...
By Justin Mikulka, 18 Apr, 2018