While oil prices still haven’t climbed back near triple digits, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said market conditions may be slowly improving.
During an industry conference in London, van Beurden said he has seen the “first mixed signs” of an oil price recovery, according to Reuters.
Prolonged low oil prices, coupled with curbed capital expenditure budgets, could eventually push prices back up as buyers work through crude stores.
“This could cause prices to spike upwards, starting a new cycle of strong production growth in U.S. shale oil and subsequent volatility,” van Beurden said.
The U.S. crude stock is expected to continue climbing during October and November and is now over 100 million barrels above levels seen during the same time last year, the Wall Street Journal noted.
However, van Beurden doesn’t expect prices to rocket back to all time highs any time soon as U.S. shale production proves to be “more resilient” than industry experts had initially expected.
“But with U.S. shale oil being more resilient than we originally thought and a lot of oil still in stock, it will take some more time to rebalance demand and supply,” van Beurden said.
In its latest short term energy outlook, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated that total U.S. crude oil production declined by 120,000 barrels per day in September compared with August.
Crude oil production is forecast to slide through mid-2016 before growth resumes late in 2016.
The agency currently expects U.S. crude production to average 9.2 million bpd in 2015 and then drop to an average of 8.9 million bpd in 2016.
On the financing front van Beurden painted a slightly bleaker picture.
The CEO said low oil prices could make it more difficult for U.S. producers to refinance, a consequence that could also push output levels down.
“Producers are now looking for new cash to survive and they will probably struggle to get it,” van Beurden said.
Royal Dutch Shell Malaysia said last week it will cut 1,300 jobs over the next two years as it reorganizes its upstream division.
Shell won approval from EU regulators last month to move forward with its $70 billion acquisition of BG Group.
The deal is expected to grow Shell’s proved oil and gas reserves by 25 percent and increase its production by 20 percent while saving the company $2.5 billion per year.