As US shale output passes 8mn b/d the sector is increasingly becoming the domain of the majors. Long-term investment plans involving petchems, LNG and export facilities will see Exxon and Chevron grow production almost irrespective of oil prices. The era when small E&Ps dominated, and activity swung wildly, is drawing to a close.

Latest data from the US shale patch is sharply schizophrenic. Output continues to break new records – the total for seven key shale basins broke 8mn b/d...