U.S. shale oil production will increase by a modest 42,000 bpd in August, according to the Energy Information Administration.
In its latest Drilling Productivity Report, the EIA forecast that almost all of this production increase will come from the Permian, at 52,000 bpd. Production in the Appalachia Basin will also increase, by 2,000 bpd. At the same time, the EIA said, production across the rest of the shale plays, excluding Haynesville, will decline by a combined 13,000 bpd. Production at Haynesville will remain flat on the month.
This modest forecast increase would push total U.S. shale oil output to 7.9 million bpd in August, still a far cry from what the U.S. shale basins were producing before the pandemic as shale drillers remain cautious of sudden price swings in the price of oil.
This cautiousness played a bad joke on some shale producers, however. These companies hedged their 2021 production soon after oil prices began recovering, eventually losing money because they hedged too early. Many did not hedge, but those who did now have less motivation to boost production as this would effectively mean losing more money on their premature hedges.
According to Rystad Energy, there is also another purely technical reason why U.S. shale oil production is slow to come back. Currently, the energy consultancy said, most U.S. shale producers are boosting production from drilled but uncompleted wells. For a more meaningful ramp-up of production, they would need to drill more new wells.
“Even if the US shale industry wanted to produce more, the time required from a price signal to a significant production impact is at least nine months, including the time it takes to make an investment decision, the months needed from spud to frac end, plus the last stage from frac end to peak production,” said Artem Abramov, Rystad’s head of shale research.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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