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Shale Boom Delivers a Bust for Investors

The returns investors have received from the “shale revolution” have been mediocre to poor, despite the “extreme hype” that accompanied the new energy source that “has been touted as the energy panacea of our time,” according to Deborah Lawrence, Executive Director of the Fort Worth, Texas-based Energy Policy Forum.

Of the five top producers in the Marcellus shale in the northeastern United States, only one—EOG, formerly Enron Oil and Gas—saw its shares rise at the same rate as the Standard & Poors 500 index. “Nothing earth shattering here,” Lawrence writes.

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“EOG’s peers, however, had significantly weaker returns for shareholders. The next best performance was from Anadarko with a mere 18% over five years, followed by Range [Resources] with -1%, Chesapeake [Energy] with -31%, and Exco [Resources] with a dismal -89%. And all during the height of the shale gas revolution.”

Companies in the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale regions showed similar performance.

“In short, the shale revolution has not produced the types of returns that one would expect,” Lawrence states. “The trend that is emerging appears to be that investors see more potential in clean energy companies within the entire energy sector than the tried and true oil and gas vehicles of old. Solar stocks in some cases have outperformed their oil and gas counterparts by multiples,” while “investment banks have made extraordinary statements to their most sophisticated clients about hydrocarbons becoming ‘extinct’ within the next decade, a notion which was virtually unthinkable less than five years ago.”