NEW YORK: In New Mexico's Chihuahuan Desert, Exxon Mobil is building a massive shale oil project that its executives boast will allow it to ride out the industry's notorious boom-and-bust cycles.
Workers at its Remuda lease near Carlsbad - part of a staff of 5,000 spread across New Mexico and Texas - are drilling wells, operating fleets of hydraulic pumps and digging trenches for pipelines, report agencies.The sprawling site reflects the massive commitment to the Permian Basin by oil majors, who have spent an estimated $10 billion (Dh36.72bn) buying acreage in the top US shale field since the beginning of 2017, according to research firm Drillinginfo.
The rising investment also reflects a recognition that Exxon, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and BP largely missed out on the first phase of the Permian shale bonanza while more nimble independent producers, who pioneered shale drilling technology, leased Permian acreage on the cheap.
Now that the field has made the US the world's top oil producer, Exxon and other majors are moving aggressively to dominate the Permian and use the oil to feed their sprawling pipeline, trading, logistics, refining and chemicals businesses. The majors have 75 drilling rigs here this month, up from 31 in 2017, according to Drillinginfo. Exxon operates 48 of those rigs and plans to add seven more this year.