November 22, 2017

Shocking Deterioration In Tight Oil

The amount of new production simply cannot keep up with the steep declines in older wells
By Energy Policy Forum, February 13, 2015

Tight oil in the US is experiencing shocking deterioration in production vs. declines percentages just since November. Rig counts have plunged and though production overall is still rising, the amount used to offset the steep declines in older tight oil wells is skyrocketing. For instance, in the Bakken as recently as November 2014, 71% of all new production coming online was being used to do nothing but offset the declines in older wells. This was a very high figure. But over the ensuing three months as crude prices crumbled and capital expenditure has been slashed this figure has soared to 86%.

New wells increasingly just replace the production of old wells in decline

New wells increasingly just replace the production of old wells in decline

The same thing is happening in the Eagle Ford where 72% of all new production was needed in November 2014 but has now risen to 89%. This is problematic because these figures are rapidly approaching 100% which means that the plays are quickly falling into decline. The amount of new production simply cannot keep up with the steep declines in older wells. Unfortunately “older” in shale gas and tight oil means a mere 4-5 years. These are not long lived wells.

This is a classic illustration of the challenge of shale production. Without a frenzy of relentless drilling, operators just can’t maintain a stable production profile. Almost literally, the minute they stop drilling, the whole exercise begins to unravel. And yet, this is what the industry proposes we bet our energy future on.

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