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US unconventional oil production is pushing higher; both well completions and average initial well performance are on the rise

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US – update through February 2018

This article contains still images from interactive dashboards available on the blog post. To follow the instructions detailed here, use the interactive dashboards. You can also explore the dashboards to uncover different insights and trends.


This interactive presentation contains the latest oil & gas production data through January, from 84,210 horizontal wells in 10 US states. Cumulative oil and gas production from these wells reached 8.4 Gbo and 86.6 Tcf.

Oil production from these wells has risen fast in the 12 months through February, adding around 1 million bo/d, bringing the total to over 5 million bo/d (after revisions).

The pace of this growth has been similar to that seen in 2014, but the surprise this time is that far fewer wells are responsible for this (8.5k vs 15k in 2014, excluding Ohio & West Virginia).


The impact from changing well designs on well productivity can be seen in the ‘Well quality’ tab, where I’ve preselected the oil basins.


In the ‘Well status’ overview, where the status of all these wells is shown, you can seen an inflection point at the end of 2016, when drilling activity went up again.


The ‘Advanced Insights’ presentation is displayed below:


This “Ultimate recovery” overview shows the relationship between cumulative production, and production rates, over time. I’ve preselected the major oil basins, and the wells are grouped by the year in which production started.

The logarithmic scale on the y-axis, denoting the production rate, hides the enormous differences in current flow rates from old & new wells: wells that started producing in Q1 2010 are now on average producing 20 bo/d, while new wells are peaking at a level of ~650 bo/d in their first full calendar month (month 2)

These rapid decline rates explain why about half of current unconventional oil production is coming from wells that started in the past 12 months, as shown in the first presentation.

The location and status of these wells can be seen in the 3rd tab (‘Well status map’), where the size of the dots is an indication of how many wells are represented.


Early next week I will have a new post on the Niobrara, followed by one on the Appalachian basin (end of next week/early the week after).

Production data is subject to revisions. For these presentations, I used data gathered from the sources listed below.

  • Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission
  • Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. Similar as in Texas, lease/unit production is allocated over wells in order to estimate their individual production histories.
  • Montana Board of Oil and Gas
  • New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission
  • North Dakota Department of Natural Resources
  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources
  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
  • Texas Railroad Commission. Individual well production is estimated through the allocation of lease production data over the wells in a lease, and from pending lease production data.
  • West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection
  • West Virginia Geological & Economical Survey
  • Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission

Visit our blog to read the full post and use the interactive dashboards to gain more insight

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Edited by shaleprofile
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Excellent stuff, thank you, Enno!

Is there a way to attribute acreage per well? (wells/section?). Frac hits and parent-child intergenerational conflict become an issue (no other explanation of rising GOR)...

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