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Shale oil's new calculus

Will producers chase growth or profits?

It didn't take long for the tight oil industry's new value-over-volume mantra to face its first test. Shale executives spent much of late 2017 trying to convince investors that they had received the message on capital discipline. Growth at all cost was out and free cash-flow was in. That was before the oil price surge. From October to mid-February, prices jumped 30% to $65 a barrel, a level that makes just about any shale well look enticing. Oil's rally, then, will prove a tempting diversion on the path to a new, more sustainable, business model. Executives would be wise to resist the temptation to restart the drilling frenzy. The industry is at something of a crossroads. After proving its

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