Sunday, June 4, 2017

Are Super Rigs The Driver Behind Bakken 2.0? -- June 4, 2017

Oilprice asks the question whether super rigs are the driver behind the new shale boom?

We've talked about this before. Certainly rigs have a lot to do with this but of the top seven reasons behind the new shale boom I would list these:
  • geologists have gotten a lot smarter with regard to drilling for unconventional oil
  • roughnecks have gotten a whole lot better with the tools they've been given, including super rigs
  • everyone understands the geology a whole better; the older the horizontal play, the better the understanding
  • much, much, much better completion strategies which have nothing to do with the drilling rigs; including re-fracks and taking neighboring wells into consideration
  • operators are focusing on the best spots to drill
  • better management of assets; better management of reserves; better management of producing wells
  • a hell of a lot of infrastructure has been put in place over the past 10 years
In fact, I'm not sure "super rigs" have anything to do with the "new shale boom." Super rigs can drill to depth much more quickly, making the whole operation more economically efficient, but if we had the same rigs as we had in Bakken 1.0 we would just have more rigs drilling to depth -- it would be the seven factors listed above (and others) that would still account for Bakken 2.0.

All one has to do is look at the very, very few wells that are actually being drilled now compared to the number of wells that were being drilled during the boom. I don't think super rigs are doing all that much in the big scheme of things, except driving down price, and that's being offset by the increase in costs of services and fracking solutions.

The Oilprice article has some interesting data points:
  • US rigs: 908 now compared with 504 one year ago
  • Helmerich & Payne has just bought Motive Drilling Technologies in a push toward automation, and possibly, autonomy
  • efficiencies in drilling has allowed companies to survive 
  • EIA currently expects US crude oil production to average 9.3 million bopd in 2017 and lmost 10.0 million bopd in 2018
  • after recent production figures, Rystad Energy believes the EIA will again review up its US production outlook
  • Oilprice calls US shall the "new swing oil producer"
I'm not sure there is a "swing oil producer" any more.  I guess it depends on what the definition of "swing" is.

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