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Citi: Capital Markets Now Control Oil Prices

Bond markets and banks may determine who lives and who dies in the U.S. shale patch.
A billboard asks for leasing opportunities along the Interstate highway near downtown of Fort Worth, Texas, February 27, 2006. The Barnett Shale natural-gas boom is creating new investments and growth to the city.

A billboard asks for leasing opportunities along the Interstate highway near downtown of Fort Worth, Texas, February 27, 2006. The Barnett Shale natural-gas boom is creating new investments and growth to the city.

Photographer: J. G. Domke

From the concrete canyons of Lower Manhattan to the shale basins of West Texas, a new report from Citigroup underscores the degree to which Wall Street has financed the U.S. oil boom, with analysts warning that the slow grind of lower oil prices could spell tough times ahead for shale producers and their creditors.

Cash-hungry shale producers have relied on a mix of bond sales and loans to finance capital-intensive gas explorations, with the interplay between the two types of financings now under the spotlight as oil companies face an intensifying credit crunch.