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By Terry Wade and Ernest Scheyder
HOUSTON, Aug 3 (Reuters) – Nimble U.S. shale oil producers continue to show an uncanny ability to squeeze more and more crude from new wells, allowing them to do more with less as they try to weather another dip in oil prices to $40 a barrel.
Comments from Noble Energy NBL.N, Devon Energy DVN.N and Occidental Petroleum OXY.N on Wednesday were significant because only six months ago many analysts were fretting that shale producers had hit a wall after slashing costs and lifting well output by as much as 50 percent since the steepest price crash in a generation started in mid-2014.
Now, while acknowledging that most oilfield services costs cannot fall further, these companies say they are still seeing output gains from improved well designs and fracking techniques.
The rising well output means they can produce more oil with each dollar spent. This could help them survive the latest slump in oil prices CLc1 back to multi-year lows after a partial recovery brought crude back up to about $50 a barrel.
“It’s a bit surprising to me how we continue to still see improvements,” Noble Energy Chief Executive Dave Stover said of operations in Colorado, where second-quarter productivity gains were 4 percent.
“My feeling is we’re not at the end of that game yet,” he said on its second-quarter results call.