Giant Sucking Sound of Capital Destruction in US Oil & Gas…”Now it’s getting serious.”

Friday, November 6, 2015
By Paul Martin

by Wolf Richter
WolfStreet.com
November 5, 2015

Chesapeake Energy is a good example. The second largest natural gas producer in the US, after Exxon, reported its debacle yesterday.

Revenues plunged 49% from the quarter a year ago, when the oil bust had already set in. The company has been slashing costs and capital expenditures. In June, it eliminated its dividend. And yesterday, it recognized $5.4 billion in impairment charges, bringing impairments for the nine months to a staggering $15.4 billion.

Impairment charges are a sudden accounting recognition of accumulated capital destruction. These impairments pushed its losses from operations to $5.4 billion in Q3 and to $16 billion for the nine months.

Chesapeake currently gets 72% of its production from natural gas, 17% from oil, and 11% from natural gas liquids. The oil bust has been going on since the summer of 2014. The US natural gas bust has been going on since 2009! Two natural gas producers have already gone bankrupt this year: Quicksilver Resources and Samson Resources.

Its annual free cash flow has been negative since 1994, even during good times, with only two tiny exceptions (Bloomberg chart). After living off borrowed money, it’s now trying to hang on by selling assets and lowering its mountain of debt. But it still owes $16 billion, much of which QE-besotted, ZIRP-blinded, yield-hungry investors had handed it over the years, based on hype and false hopes.

The Rest…HERE

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