The global oil industry is bracing for a long period of lower prices.
"I think people need to settle in for us to be in a different price environment for at least a couple of years and then we'll see how things respond," said Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil CEO. Tillerson was speaking at the annual IHS CERAWeek in Houston.
This is no ordinary period of decline. Executives at the energy conference described two factors that distinguish this price collapse from previous oil downturns, which has already brought a dramatic reduction in capital spending and other costs.
One is the fact that financing is still available to the industry, and the other is that it's still not clear how the upstart U.S. shale industry will deal with its first serious decline. So far, U.S. production has grown during the downturn, as the so-called "unconventional" industry continued to drill existing wells and focused on the most productive.