Since the beginning of this year, oil explorers and producers have focused their attention on shale resources following a favorable crude pricing environment. The count of rigs will likely keep increasing since oil price is expected to remain healthy. Thus, with rising drilling activities, production may increase, aiding upstream energy players' businesses.
Oil Price Still High
West Texas Intermediate crude price is trading at more than $70 per barrel, which is still highly favorable for exploration and production activities. Also, in its short-term energy outlook, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (“EIA”) projected the average spot price of West Texas Intermediate crude at $95.22 per barrel this year, significantly higher than $68.21 in 2021.
Shale Oil Production to Rise
In January, total oil production from shale resources in the United States will likely increase by 94,000 barrels per day to 9,319 thousand barrels per day (MBbl/D), per EIA. The shale resources comprise Anadarko, Appalachia, Bakken, Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Niobrara and Permian.
Of all the resources, the Permian will witness the highest increase in daily oil production this month, according to the EIA’s drilling productivity report. In the Permian, the EIA projects oil production to rise by 37,000 barrels per day to 5,579 MBbls/D in January.
Permian Explorers in the Spotlight
It has been crystal clear that a favorable crude pricing scenario is backing higher production volumes. Improving Permian production amid healthy oil prices has raised the incentive to keep an eye on stocks of companies operating in the most prolific basin.
3 Stocks to Gain
Diamondback Energy, Inc. FANG is a leading pure-play Permian operator. The firm, carrying a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), will be expanding its footprint in the Midland basin since it recently signed a definitive purchase agreement for acquiring all leasehold interest and associated properties of Lario Permian, LLC – which is a wholly owned affiliate of Lario Oil & Gas Company. FANG also has an investment-grade balance sheet.
Pioneer Natural Resources Company PXD has a strong presence in the low-cost oil-rich Midland basin — a sub-basin of the broader Permian. The #3 Ranked upstream energy player has a massive inventory of premium wells that will likely generate significant returns for the company.
Pioneer Natural is focused on returning capital to shareholders. This includes a substantial variable dividend along with a strong base dividend. PXD is also employing opportunistic share repurchases to reward shareholders.
Pioneer Natural has considerably lower exposure to debt capital than the composite stocks belonging to the industry. This reflects PXD’s strong balance sheet on which the firm can rely to sail through the volatile energy businesses.
Solid oil prices are a boon for Matador Resources Company’s MTDR upstream operations. This is because MTDR has a strong presence in oil-rich core acres of the Wolfcamp and Bone Spring plays in the Delaware Basin. Favorable oil price is likely to aid it in increasing production volumes. For 2022, the upstream energy player with a Zacks Rank of 3 expects total production of 37.7-38.3 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMBoE), higher than 31.5 MMBoE in 2021.
On another positive note, Matador plans to turn to sales a net of 71 wells this year, including operated and non-operated wells. The prime priorities that MTDR has set for this year are lowering debt levels, delivering free cashflows and maintaining or increasing dividends.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.