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US shale oil producers could crumble amid energy-sector realignment

TOKYO -- U.S. shale oil producers could become casualties of the depressed crude market as reduced production squeezes their earnings and banks consider cutting off funding.

     U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude futures dipped to $37.84 per barrel in New York Thursday, down 45 cents on news that a meeting of oil-producing nations looking to freeze production, planned for March 20, could fall through. But the futures turned upward once more during after-hours trading. There was little real hope pinned on the Saudi- and Russia-led meeting to begin with, said a trader for a major trading house. The market is focused more on shifts in U.S. production, the trader said.

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