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EIA report pegs Permian as only oil-producing shale

The latest U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) monthly drilling report has revealed some very encouraging news for the Permian Basin, but as for other major shale plays—not so much.

Among the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Marcellus and Niobrara shale plays, the Permian stood alone as the only shale to sustain continued oil production. According to the EIA’s March report, the Permian’s oil production grew by 21,000 barrels per day in April compared to a month ago. That increase brings the Permian’s overall oil production up to 1.982 million barrels a day. The Eagle Ford shale play, also in Texas, came in second with 1.723 million barrels per day, but saw a decrease in its monthly oil production of 10,000 barrels.


Image courtesy of eia.gov

Also dropping in oil production for the month is the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and the Niobrara Shale in parts of Colorado, Wyoming and western Nebraska. The Bakken saw an 8,000 barrel per day loss over the past month to bring the Bakken to a total of 1.320 million barrels per day of oil production. The Niobrara, which relies less on oil, saw a 5,000 barrel per day loss, dropping it to 413,000 barrel per day production level. Both the Haynesville and Marcellus shales saw no change in its oil production over the past month. In fact, they both sit at 57,000 barrels per day of oil production.

The EIA data has also shown that “legacy” wells in the Permian, Bakken and Eagle Ford shales have steadily dropped over the years, from 10,000 fewer barrels a day in 2007 to 70,000 fewer barrels a day in 2015. Legacy wells in the Permian alone lost 69,000 barrels a day over the past month. According to former Permian Basin Petroleum Association president Morris Burns, legacy wells drying up are due to the “first flush,” which is the initial wave of production from hydraulically fractured wells that wanes after the first year or two.


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