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Oil price fight: Saudis vs. strippers

Spencer Jakab | Wall Street Journal

The world’s largest oil producers are hurting. Just how badly may depend on whether the smallest are feeling even worse.

Oil strippers, scrappy operators of old wells often abandoned by big producers, have output that can be as low as a barrel a day. They universally squeeze out less than 15 barrels, the opposite end of the spectrum from giant Middle Eastern exporters. Collectively, though, strippers appear to operate eight out of 10 U.S. wells and produce a 10th of U.S. output, as much as Algeria, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

But with oil hovering below $50 a barrel, these small fry are reeling. And their precarious fate may play a role in deciding the success or failure of OPEC’s attempt to engineer a permanent shift in market share through low oil prices. Full Story