(Adds Iran nuclear deal comment)
By Ernest Scheyder
HOUSTON, May 9 (Reuters) - U.S. shale producers will not boost output to offset any global oil squeeze after President Donald Trump abandoned the Iran nuclear deal, one of the industry’s most prominent executives said on Wednesday.
The withdrawal, alongside Trump’s decision to impose the “highest level” of sanctions on Iran, sent Brent and U.S. benchmark oil prices up more than 3 percent on Wednesday.
Iran, the third-largest oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, pumps 3.8 million barrels per day (bpd).
U.S. shale producers, which in the past year have increased output by nearly 2 million bpd, to about 7 million bpd, are not likely to act to fill that void should Iranian exports slip, said Mark Papa, chief executive of Centennial Resource Development Inc.
“I don’t think it’s going to change what U.S. producers do at all,” Papa told Reuters in Houston after a meeting with the board of directors of national oil company Saudi Aramco, which is holding a regularly scheduled gathering this week in Houston.
Many U.S. shale producers have set their 2018 spending budgets and are wary of boosting spending to pump more as their shareholders call for higher dividends and share buybacks.
For example, Occidental Petroleum Corp, the largest producer in the largest U.S. oilfield, the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico, said on Wednesday it would allocate cash from rising oil prices to shareholder returns, and has no plans to add to capital expenses.
Iran’s oil production fell by around 1 million bpd during the last round of sanctions, but the country re-emerged as a major oil exporter to Asia after sanctions were lifted in January 2016.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, is studying Trump’s decision but will not act alone to fill any supply gap, a source told Reuters.
Papa, who declined to comment on the Aramco meeting, was joined by Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources Inc, the largest oil producer in North Dakota’s Bakken shale.
The pair left the meeting with Saudi Aramco gift bags.
Papa and Hamm are set to speak next month at an OPEC seminar ahead of an oil ministers’ meeting in Vienna.
“I’m going to go talk about what the expectations are for U.S. shale oil production,” Papa said in a brief interview. (Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; editing by Jonathan Oatis)