The American shale revolution has unleashed a flood of oil and gas production, as drillers combine the techniques of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal well drilling to tap previously inaccessible rock formations. Detractors have pointed to steep well decline rates as a sign that the boom is more of a bubble, ready to burst at any second, but the graph above belies that notion. We should keep in mind that it’s early days yet for these dual techniques, and that drillers are still working to perfect them. The graph above illustrates the dramatic increases in production per rig in south Texas’s Eagle Ford formation. It depicts an industry focused on increasing production not just by drilling more wells, but by squeezing more oil out of every well drilled. The EIA reports:
Increased drilling and improved drilling efficiency have led to significant crude oil production increases in the Eagle Ford region in southern Texas. These increases have occurred despite the region’s relatively high well decline rates. However, by offsetting the natural declines through the use of new recovery techniques, further production increases are possible.
And it’s not just productivity per rig that continues to skyrocket. Look at the overall oil production of the Eagle Ford formation:
Fracking and the shale boom make plenty of headlines these days, and as a result of that media saturation, it’s easy to nod one’s head at the phenomenon and move on to the next news item. But data sets like the ones illustrated above show how truly transformative this energy revolution has been. Fallow fields have become centers of new black gold rushes, not just in Texas, but in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, as well.The American energy landscape is profoundly changed from what it was just five years ago, and decidedly for the better. As drillers continue to hone their techniques, it looks like the future holds even more promise.