Wednesday, January 20, 2016

the fracking year 2015


aleklett |  On New Year’s Eve the players in the fracking industry popped their champagne corks but it was not to celebrate wonderful success as they had done the year before. Rather it was to drown their sorrows. The USA’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) has now released this year’s first Drilling Productivity Report so we can now summarise what happened with fracking for shale oil and shale gas during 2015.

One the map you can see the areas in the USA that accounted for 92 % of the increase in oil production and 100 % of the increase in natural gas production during 2011-2014. These are the areas included in theDrilling Productivity Report . The other areas can make only small contributions to increased production and when we look into the future there are no new large areas that can begin to contribute large production volumes.

To give a complete picture of the areas with fracking I will also show this map from the EIA. The Barnett Shale in Texas is a big producer when it comes to shale gas but its production is not growing. Fracking exists in these areas today and it will exist in them tomorrow.

Shale oil was produced first from the Bakken Shale and then came Eagle Ford. Oil production in the Permian basin is a mixture of shale oil and conventional oil production and this is an area where shale oil production began later. There are not as many wells in the Permian that can rapidly deplete. When I wrote the chapter on fracking in my new book, “A world addicted to oil” I asserted that production from wells in Eagle Ford decline faster than for wells in the Bakken Shale. Visible evidence for this is that production in Eagle Ford has declined more in percentage terms than in the Bakken. The smaller shale area Niobrara has a mid-level production rate. We will now focus especially on the Bakken and Eagle Ford shales.

 If we look at the number of drilling rigs that are active in the Bakken shale then we can see that activity has contracted dramatically during 2015. In the beginning there were around 200 rigs and now the number is under 50. In Drill, Baby Drill David Hughes showed that production from the Bakken would decline by 40% during one year if no new wells were drilled. The figure shown here does not show production per well but, rather, how efficiently oil producers can utilize individual drilling rigs. It will be interesting to see what happens with future production from the Bakken shale.