ETF investors interested in the oil exploration and production space have a number of options available, including the iShares U.S. Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (NYSEArca: IEO), SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (NYSEArca: XOP) and PowerShares Dynamic Energy Exploration & Production Portfolio (NYSEArca: PXE).

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While U.S. shale producers previously continued pumping in the face of low prices, the industry has recently revealed a spate of capital spending reductions, indicating still low crude prices are taking a toll. Low oil prices are also prompting speculation about credit downgrades for some exploration and production firms that already carry junk credit ratings.

“More worrisome perhaps for oil bulls, the U.S. drillers said they’re getting more efficient, allowing them to raise production goals without boosting spending. All five companies either cut or left flat their capital budgets for the full year,” reports Bloomberg.

The energy sector is the worst-performing group in the S&P 500 this year. Over the past week, IEO and XOP are down an average of 4%.

For more information on the crude oil market, visit our oil category.