1. DUCs crowd the pond.
A much-discussed concern on the minds of the 200-plus conference attendees was the uncertain impact of the soaring number of drilled-but-uncompleted (DUC) wells in the Permian Basin - and the point at which the accumulation becomes excessive.
Steel market participants anticipate an inflection point after which that trend will reverse, with oil-and-gas producers preferring to complete wells rather than drilling new ones. The trouble is, nobody is really sure when that will happen.
From the standpoint of oil country tubular goods (OCTG) providers, the thirst for drilling has been bullish for casing demand in 2018-19. When the pendulum swings toward completions, OCTG demand shifts to tubing. Texas distributors said tubing inventories were starting to pile up in anticipation of that shift. Indeed, with each successive conference session and coffee-break conversation, distributors seemed to adjust their industry-wide OCTG inventory estimates from two to three months up to more like three...