U.S. shale drillers spooked by the epic meltdown in oil markets are trying to figure out how to protect themselves in the future. It won’t come easy, or cheap. After oil’s crash below zero, explorers face hefty premiums for the financial instruments they rely upon to insure against price swings. Meanwhile, they’re also unwilling to lock in future supply with forward prices for crude remaining lackluster.
“Producers are stuck between a rock and a hard place right now,” said Michael Tran, managing director of global energy strategy at RBC Capital Markets. “There has been a dearth of opportunities to hedge for 2021, and this is traditionally the time period when you lean into next year’s hedging at more robust levels.”
This year about half of U.S. producers tracked by BloombergNEF have their production hedged for 2021, according to first-quarter company filings. In the first quarter of 2019, about 60% of producers hedged their output for the year ahead. Even though U.S. oil prices for June have rallied some 75% this month, the West Texas Intermediate swap for 2021 has only edged 10% higher. That means the recent rally has been concentrated in the most active part of the oil curve.