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US tight oil turning over a new leaf?

A shale sector that emphasised returns over production growth would be a win from both shareholders and oil markets

Returns, returns, returns. Shale executives echoed each other on the latest round of quarterly calls with investors, promising wary shareholders and analysts that they're ready to start putting returns over production growth. This isn't the first time investors have heard the refrain, though. As the oil price recovered from its early 2016 lows, shale companies made a similar pledge. The days of spending beyond their means to chase loss-making output growth, executives told investors, were over. Then the animal spirits took hold again. The shale industry has spent about 50% more than it has brought in this year, while production quickly ramped up. Only a few companies have squeaked out profi



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