The looming threat to American oil output
Thursday, 12 Feb 2015 | 2:19 PM ET CNBC.com
Conventional wells go through a long period of steady, flat production between peak and decline. In contrast, production falls rapidly in the first three years of unconventional wells—those in shale, sandstone and carbonates. They then enter a long phase of very low production.
In order to even keep production steady across an unconventional oilfield, producers must constantly drill new, high-producing wells. Now they’re cutting back on exploration, and many investors and energy companies do not fully appreciate how many new wells producers will have to drill in order to get production back to where they were, said Michael Rowe, vice president of exploration and production research at Tudor Pickering Holt.
To be sure, some new wells have been drilled, but producers have delayed fracking them. In its most recent report, the North Dakota Industrial Commission pointed out that 775 drilled wells in the state’s Bakken Shale were waiting to be completed at the end of November. While some of the wells were not being completed due to a backlog of work for fracking crews, some companies have made the strategic decision to put off the investment in the second phase, Hughes told CNBC.