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The big shale capital crunch

US tight oil producers are pulling out all the stops to get through the sector’s first major test

It's survival time for America’s shale drillers. At $30 a barrel, it’s not a profitable business. Dozens of companies have already been forced into bankruptcy and many more are likely to follow without a swift price recovery. The sector is overburdened with debt and isn’t generating anywhere near enough cash. Things are so bad in the US oil patch that some have starting to draw parallels with the US telecom bust in the early 2000s that tipped the US into recession. The gloomiest forecasters – whisper it – even compare things with the 2008 mortgage crisis.  The sector’s finances have eroded with each step down in the oil price. The $200bn in debt taken on by shale drillers supercharged the s

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