Oil Prices Likely To Soar And XLE Investors To Benefit From U.S. Shale's Weakness

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Oil Refinery And Pipeline


It is my 2nd article connected Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEARCA:XLE). Earlier on, I wrote astir the 2023 outlook for lipid prices and XLE's maturation potential. In my view, constricted US shale's maturation opportunities would greatly contribute to XLE's and different lipid investors' success. Let maine explicate this successful my article.

US shale lipid outlook

The recent material published by inspired maine to constitute this article. At nan opening of nan pandemic precisely erstwhile nan lipid prices turned negative, I wrote that commodity surpluses extremity up turning into commodity deficits. In different words, erstwhile companies and oil-exporting countries alteration their drilling activity, they besides trim improvement and exploration superior expenditures. This intends they will not beryllium capable to raise accumulation successful nan agelong word because caller lipid wells simply are not there. In elemental terms, it requires clip and money to drill caller wells. But erstwhile nan exploration and improvement spending is not there, nan mid to semipermanent accumulation is not location either.

Obviously, nan power situation successful 2020 made galore work companies successful nan assemblage alteration their spending connected equipment, which led to this marketplace getting earnestly undersupplied. This, successful turn, made shaper value ostentation successful nan power assemblage soar.

This intends that instrumentality and work providers are demanding overmuch higher rates. Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) CEO Scott Sheffield said:

"If I wanted to turn much than 5 percent, I’d person to telephone up each nan work contractors; they’re going to complaint maine 30 to 40 percent more; it’s going to return a twelvemonth to build caller equipment; it’s going to return 2 years to commencement showing results. By that time, you whitethorn spell done an lipid value collapse.”

In different words, it does not make economical consciousness for shale lipid companies to raise accumulation because immoderate of nan costs are high.

But nan problems do not rather extremity there. Some biology regulations were precocious signed by nan Democratic management prohibiting drilling, exploration, and improvement activities successful definite areas. Quite precocious nan Democrats passed a ambiance measure arsenic well. It was, however, renamed nan Inflation Reduction Act. The thought is to lower power costs by subsidizing cleaner technologies and reducing reliance connected fossil fuels. This should mean lipid companies won't person overmuch support from nan authorities aliases astatine slightest fossil fuels won't beryllium nan main priority.

Yet, nan reasons why shale lipid producers won't drill overmuch much don't extremity here. Smaller companies suffered greatly during nan pandemic. Their indebtedness loads increased, whilst nan net sewage negative. Some drillers moreover went retired of business. This, obviously, led to immoderate marketplace consolidation. But it made galore firm managers get much conservative. In different words, alternatively of raising production, they thin to fortify their companies' finances. For example, earlier connected I wrote astir Occidental Petroleum (OXY), 1 of nan awesome shale lipid players. OXY retired plentifulness of debt, started paying dividends, and recommenced buying backmost its ain stock. Its main attraction is, therefore, connected making its stockholders happy alternatively than expanding production. Many different US lipid companies stock OXY's priorities.

What does it mean for nan lipid prices and XLE?

The US is nan biggest lipid shaper successful nan world. It sewage nan absolute leader successful this area successful 2019, outpacing Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Below are immoderate of nan information for 2021 from nan EIA.

largest lipid producers


At nan aforesaid time, nan US is nan biggest lipid consumer.

largest lipid consumers


The constituent I americium making is that precocious lipid accumulation successful nan US is very important for some nan country's power independency and besides nan marketplace commodity prices.

The White House management sees nan lipid proviso arsenic a threat to nan country's power stability. That's why immoderate stocks from nan SPR were released. The lipid reserves successful nan US are now lingering adjacent multi-decade lows.

SPR releases history


The constituent I americium making is that little US drilling activity and falling lipid reserves tin lead to higher prices of this commodity each astir nan world, different factors being equal.

Earlier connected I wrote an article wherever I listed nan components of nan Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF. Below are listed nan largest holdings of this ETF fund.

Buy XLE - Oil Prices Set To Gain In 2023

Seeking Alpha

Most of nan companies supra are multinational corporations that do not solely trust connected US shale. So, a alteration successful nan measurement of lipid drilling successful nan US will apt only person a affirmative effect connected their profits and banal prices acknowledgment to a emergence successful nan commodity prices.


Superficially, it looks for illustration XLE is not a bargain because it is lingering adjacent its 10-year high.

ChartData by YCharts

It besides looks evident that XLE ETF valuations correlate pinch lipid prices. It is true. But successful nan caller fewer months, XLE has been outperforming crude oil. It mightiness awesome overvaluation. But successful fact, it shows a very bully momentum. Any upside activity successful nan lipid prices should nutrient an moreover bigger surge successful XLE valuations.

ChartData by YCharts

I would besides for illustration to judge if lipid is overvalued according to a fewer accepted measures.

First, fto america return nan communal gold-to-oil ratio. I would opportunity that neither golden nor lipid is overvalued correct now. Both are now trading astatine astir mean levels.

Gold to lipid ratio history

Gold to Oil ratio


Below I person besides placed 2 graphs - nan bluish 1 represents crude oil, whilst nan orangish 1 shows nan S&P 500 valuation. Right now it looks for illustration S&P 500 is overperforming oil. This intends that lipid is undervalued vs. S&P 500.

Crude lipid vs. nan S&P 500

crude lipid vs. nan S&P 500



Obviously, location are risks to my thesis. The biggest presumption I make is that each different factors would enactment equal. But present are nan factors that whitethorn alteration nan full picture.

  • The OPEC would raise production. That's not my base-case script because awesome OPEC players, astir notably Saudi Arabia, are rather blimpish successful their assumptions. They ever facet successful nan economical risks and Chinese demand. So, unless they are perfectly definite nan lipid request is precocious and will enactment so, they will not summation production.
  • The sanctions against Russia, Iran aliases Venezuela would beryllium suspended. As we each know, these countries person ample lipid reserves. So, if sanctions against immoderate of these countries get suspended, we mightiness spot higher lipid supplies. But correct now this does not look to beryllium likely.
  • The biggest consequence is that of an economical recession. This is nan biggest downside risk, successful my opinion. Central banks are tightening their monetary policies. Most notably, successful nan US nan Fed will astir most apt hike nan liking rates twice. This mightiness provoke an economical downturn, frankincense pushing lipid prices downwards.


It is not profitable for lipid fields to raise accumulation successful nan shale lipid patch. Many corporations person sewage blimpish and want to usage rate successful bid to salary down nan debt. The biology regulations person sewage rather rigorous arsenic well. So, we should not expect a large summation successful US shale lipid production. This should pressurize nan lipid supply, frankincense keeping nan lipid prices high. There are definite risks to this bullish thesis, astir notably nan world recession.

This article was written by

Anna Sokolidou floor plan picture

A investigation expert and a freelance writer looking for worth finance opportunities. I person respective years of investing experience. I americium mostly willing successful penning astir bargain stocks of ample companies. My liking is not constricted to American companies but extends to firms operating successful different countries but listed connected US banal exchanges.

Disclosure: I/we person nary stock, action aliases akin derivative position successful immoderate of nan companies mentioned, and nary plans to initiate immoderate specified positions wrong nan adjacent 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my ain opinions. I americium not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I person nary business narration pinch immoderate institution whose banal is mentioned successful this article.

Editor: Naga

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