US - update through February 2018

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).

You can follow us on twitter here.

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


The above presentations have 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.



  • shallow sand says:


    In my simplistic view, it is becoming more and more critical that CAPEX keeps flowing into the US shale fields that produce oil, as it appears a larger and larger amount of total production is coming from wells less than one year old.

    In this regard, it also appears from my simple view that decline rates are becoming more steep, as operators are doing everything possible to pull forward as much production as possible from these wells.

    What do you think?

    Again, thank you very much for all of your work on this very important topic! I suspect your work has led you to a lot of interesting discussions with a wide array of people, which I think is a good thing. I think this is why you have been successful with, you have merely laid out the facts.

    1. Enno says:

      Shallow Sand,

      > as it appears a larger and larger amount of total production is coming from wells less than one year old.

      Due to more and more legacy production, this ratio (new well production / total production) is actually falling; you can see this in the first graph, e.g. by look at Dec 2014 production from 2014 wells vs the total, and comparing this with Dec 2017 production from 2017 wells.

      However, I do have the impression that initial decline rates are steeper than before, and a larger part of EUR is recovered in the first year. You can see this in the ‘Well quality’ tab: the ratio between peak production for 2016 vs 2012 wells is (521/309=) 1.7, while this ratio drops to 1.5 after 20 months (107/71.7).

      Therefore, I think you are right that for newer wells ever more production is pulled forward. Production will therefore respond more quickly to changes in CAPEX, and therefore also to changes in prices.

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