WTI Crude


Brent Crude


Natural Gas




Heating Oil


Rotate device for more commodity prices

One Of Shale’s Major Plays Is Flattening Out


North Dakota publishes Historical Oil Production by County. However confidential wells are not included in these totals. But they also publish a State Summary Report which does include confidential well data for the previous two months. Working with both we can get a pretty good estimate of production from each county.


McKenzie had a 12,533 bp/d gain in March but they are still 32,447 below their December high.


Mountrail peaked back in September 2014 and dropped another 9,467 bp/d in March. Mountrail dropped the most in October when the Bakken rig count averaged 191 and WTI averaged in the mid $80s. Once North Dakota’s largest producer, I don’t think there is any question that Mountrail has peaked.

Related: This Innovation Will Help U.S. Companies Win The Oil Price War


Dunn had a big increase of 10,884 bp/d in March and surpassed its previous peak in September.


Williams was down by just over 1,000 bp/d in March.

Related: Oil Prices Will Fall: A Lesson In Gravity


North Dakota outside the big four counties has been basically flat for about a year now.


Related: Big Oil May Be Caught Off-Guard By Wave Of Retirement

Here I have plotted the legacy decline of all four major shale plays according to the EIA’s Drilling Productivity Report. The legacy decline, in barrels per day, is the total decline of all wells combined except those that came on line during the current month. So the plot above is the percentage of this month’s decline of the previous months production.

I don’t really believe those numbers are accurate. There is no reason that I can think of that would make the decline of previously drilled wells increase as production of new wells brought online declines. What the EIA has done here, I think, is to keep the legacy decline increasing every month as if production were increasing also. I cannot imagine the EIA overlooking something so obvious. However apparently they did.

That being said, I think they have the legacy decline relatively accurate before the production in three of the four plays began their decline a few months ago.

By Ron Patterson

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:

Join the discussion | Back to homepage

Leave a comment
  • Michael Berndtson on May 20 2015 said:
    Given slowdown in drilling this year, O&G should have taken the opportunity to study extraction dynamics of tight rock/shale wells. I'm assuming they did. It appears extraction from shale is rate limited (as others have said) from almost the get go, given transport mechanism restricting fluid flow through porous media. Apparently for shale, it's not simply just permeability, but other mechanisms like adsorption/desorption of extractable fluids from the shale organic matter that simply stays put. Production rate increases in the past seemed chiefly dependent on new wells added. Anyway, very interesting stuff. Thanks.

Leave a comment

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News