Permian - update through December 2016

This interactive presentation contains the latest oil & gas production data from 10793 selected horizontal wells in the Permian (Texas & New Mexico) through December 2016.

Oil production in the Permian has risen strongly in 2016. As you can see from the dark blue area, in December, about half of the oil production came from horizontal wells that started production in 2016.

Despite the apparent slow down in growth in the last few months, once revisions are in, I expect that this rise has continued and that December production will be ~10% higher than shown here. Although the number of new wells was about 1/3rd lower than in 2015, the average new well performed better, as can be seen in the “Well quality” tab. Also in this basin, most improvements have been in the first couple of months after a well was brought online, but here the ensuing average decline was lower as well.

I still estimate that Bakken wells perform better over the longer term, as the typical horizontal well in North Dakota produces about 50 bo/d after 5 years. This appears a bit too optimistic for existing wells in the Permian. But differentials are better here, and associated gas is quite a bit more.

The number of new wells put online each month, can be seen in the “Well status” tab; it has steadily moved downwards since the oil price collapse, but on a much slower pace than in the other basins. Together with the mentioned productivity improvements, these factors explain the increase in oil production.

For New Mexico, the number of DUCs can also be seen, if you select this well status. You’ll see then that this number has dropped quite a bit over 2016, from about 230 to 140 or so.

The last tab (“Top operators”) shows that 3 of the 5 largest operators increased oil production in 2016, with Pioneer National Resources growing by more than 50%, and taking over the lead from Concho Resources.

The new ‘Advanced Insights’ presentation is displayed below:



This “Ultimate recovery” overview shows how all these horizontal wells progress towards their ultimate recovery, as their production rate slows down over time. All wells are grouped by the quarter in which they started production.

Newer wells are clearly on track to recover more oil than earlier wells, with the latest 2016 wells appearing on a path to produce about 3 times more oil than 2013 wells before hitting a production rate of 30 bo/d (~300 kbo vs ~100 kbo is my ball park estimate).

You’ll see that the situation for gas is similar, if you switch to this product (using the “Product” selection).

But given the lower number of completions in 2016, probably some of these improvements have been due to high-grading, so I’m very curious to see whether this trend of higher well productivities holds up with the rapid increase in new drilling in the last couple of months.

You can see the location and status of these wells in the “Well status map” tab. Interesting to see here is that EOG still appears to have a large number of DUCs in Lea county (NM).

Coming Tuesday I plan a new post on all covered US states, followed by another update on North Dakota.

Production data is subject to revisions, especially for the last few months in Texas. Note that a significant portion of oil production in the Permian comes from vertical wells, which is excluded from these presentations.

For these presentations, I used data gathered from the following sources:

  • Texas RRC. I’ve estimated individual well production from well status & lease production data, as these are otherwise not provided. Because of these estimations, I recommend looking at larger samples (>50 wells) before drawing conclusions. About 7% of the horizontal Permian wells in Texas are excluded, as these were mixed with too many vertical wells on a lease, making reasonable well profile estimations impossible. I’ve no spud, DUC, or plugging information on wells in Texas, so these statuses are unavailable. Detailed location data is available for all New Mexico wells, and for almost 95% of the Texan wells displayed; the remaining wells are shown near the center of the county in which they are located. Formation data in Texas is only available on lease level; therefore in cases where wells on the same lease are drilled in different formations, this information is not accurate.
  • OCD in New Mexico. Accurate individual well production data is provided.


The above presentation has many interactive features:

  • You can click through the blocks on the top to see the slides.
  • Each slide has filters that can be set, e.g. to select individual or groups of operators. You can first click “all” to deselect all items. You have to click the “apply” button at the bottom to enforce the changes. After that, click anywhere on the presentation.
  • Tooltips are shown by just hovering the mouse over parts of the presentation.
  • You can move the map around, and zoom in/out.
  • By clicking on the legend you can highlight selected items.
  • Note that filters have to be set for each tab separately.
  • The operator who currently owns the well is designated by “operator (current)”. The operator who operated a well in a past month is designated by “operator (actual)”. This distinction is useful when the ownership of a well changed over time.
  • If you have any questions on how to use the interactivity, or how to analyze specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.


  • jim brooker says:

    I think the shape/concavity comparison that is developing between the 2016 well grouping and the 2014 well grouping (for instance) is fascinating.


    1. Stefan Szlendak says:

      You would expect a shale well to have a concave profile on a Log-oil vs. Cum plot. A linear slope is transient flow. If the linear slope continued indefinitely, you would have indefinite transient flow (i.e. an infinite drainage radius).

      I feel that simple Oil-rate vs. Cum-oil plots are more informative. Look for the linear slope in these. When the linear slope starts, your transient period is over and your decline rate will remain the same (i.e. won’t become shallower) for the life of the well. An earlier start end to transient indicates that wells are more quickly running into interference from other wells.

      Eagleford is a great example of earlier boundary effect with larger fracs and increased well density.

      1. Enno says:

        Jim, Stefan,

        thank you both for these insights.

        If I ever say something stupid (as I am bound to), I hope you will correct me.


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