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Shale Grab in U.S. Stalls as Falling Values Repel Buyers: Energy

Oil companies are hitting the brakes on a U.S. shale land grab that produced an abundance of cheap natural gas -- and troubles for the industry.

The spending slowdown by international companies including BHP Billiton Ltd. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc comes amid a series of write-downs of oil and gas shale assets, caused by plunging prices and disappointing wells. The companies are turning instead to developing current projects, unable to justify buying more property while fields bought during the 2009-2012 flurry remain below their purchase price, according to analysts.