(Bloomberg) -- Closely held explorers, once the engine to the Permian’s shale growth coming out of the pandemic, are now expected to lead US oil explorers into spending contraction next year.

Private oil and natural gas explorers are projected to cut their budgets by 4% to an average of $34.4 billion in 2024, according to the 39th annual global spending survey from Barclays PLC. The contraction, the biggest forecast among North American companies, comes after the private drillers increased expenditures by 15% this year. 

After better-than-expected output in 2023, the US shale patch is now in the midst of slowing down amid dwindling inventory for top-tier drilling locations. Total North American producer spending is forecast to drop 1% next year, after budgets expanded more than expected this year, Barclays analysts including J. David Anderson wrote Tuesday in a note to investors.

The Barclays estimate follows an Evercore ISI spending survey earlier this month that forecast a 2% budget bump from US oil producers next year as crude production likely increases by just 150,000 barrels a day in 2024, a fraction of this year’s 1 million-barrels—per-day growth. 

This year’s surprising jump in US oil production is partly attributable to expansion among private producers, who Barclays says account for roughly half of the US drilling rigs and as much as 40% of the country’s onshore production.

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