US wells getting deeper and more efficient

An estimated US$147.7 billion was invested in drilling approximately 45 000 US oil and natural gas wells in 2013, according to API’s 2013 Joint Association Survey on Drilling Costs. The number of wells declined slightly from 2012 and costs remained flat, but the average depth and total distance drilled increased, indicating a rise in efficiency. 

Wells getting deeper and more efficient

“Even before the recent decline in oil prices, developers focused on maximizing each well, reducing the costs and surface footprint of energy production,” said API Statistics Director Hazem Arafa. “The well count didn’t rise, but the wells are getting deeper and more efficient. As a result, the US is improving its ability to remain a competitive energy superpower, creating jobs and fueling economic growth.”

From 2012 to 2013, the number of new wells declined from an estimated 46 548 to 45 039, according to the survey. Expenditures held at an estimated US$147.7 billion compared to US$148.9 billion in 2012. In contrast, the average well depth increased from approximately 7981 ft to 8491 ft and the total well footage (horizontal and vertical distance drilled) grew from an estimated 365.9 million ft to 368.1 million ft. Total footage among shale wells, about 30% of wells surveyed, increased to an estimated 190.9 million ft from 188.8 million ft. In addition, demand for oil outpaced demand for gas, with oil wells accounting for 65.1% of expenditures in 2013.

Crude oil production increase

Over the same period, US crude oil production increased from an average of 6.5 million bpd in 2012 to an average of 7.5 million bpd in 2013, while marketed natural gas production rose from 25.3 trillion ft3 to 25.7 trillion ft3, according to the Energy Information Administration.

“The cost per foot among shale wells has declined over 43% since 2009, and that drive toward efficiency is helping US energy production to stay competitive in a difficult market,” said Arafa. “Strong domestic production means savings for consumers, greater energy security, and more economic opportunities for workers here in the US” 

API’s 2013 Joint Association Survey on Drilling Costs is available through API’s primary distributor, Information Handling Services (IHS). If you would like to purchase this report, please contact IHS (1-800-854-7179).


Adapted from press release by Cecilia Rehn

Published on 10/04/2015


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