U.S. fracking firms stay in top gear despite oil price slump
By Edward McAllister
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Unfazed by slumping oil prices and battering in the stock market, firms that supply sand and guar gum for shale oil and gas companies are not ready yet to call an end to a four-year boom spurred by hydraulic fracturing technology.
Just putting on a brave face as a downturn looms? Perhaps, but the optimism could also reflect confidence that the U.S. shale industry is more resilient to retreating oil prices than investors might think.
Oil prices have fallen 30 percent since late June and shares of such firms as U.S. Silica Holdings and Hi Crush, which supply sand to U.S. drillers, followed, dumped by investors anticipating 2015 output cuts and a drop in demand.
However, the service companies say business remains as strong as ever. Furthermore, they point out that most of their supply has been bought under long term contracts meaning next year should be good too.
"We have not seen any data or had any discussions that indicate lower demand for our sand," said Robert Rasmus, Co-Chief Executive Officer of sand producer Hi-Crush after the company reported record third quarter revenues this week.
Hi Crush's share price has fallen more than 40 percent since the beginning of September, but Rasmus said almost 90 percent of the company's sand output was sold for 2015.
His comments echoed those of other firms that supply sand and other materials to oil drillers.
U.S. Silica Holdings, whose oil and gas sector revenues doubled in the third quarter of this year, remains upbeat about its outlook. Continued...