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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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EIA: U.S. Crude Production Doubled Since 2010 Because Of Horizontal Wells

  • 81 percent of completed wells in the oil and gas industry were horizontal or directional in 2021.
  • The number of completed oil and gas wells fell by 66 percent between 2010 and 2021.
  • Horizontal well drilling has been crucial in the development of new oil and gas resources in the U.S.

More than 80 percent of oil and gas well completions in the United States were horizontal or directional in 2021, and although the total number of completed wells has fallen since 2010, U.S. crude oil production has more than doubled thanks to horizontal drilling, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Thursday.

Last year, 81 percent of completed wells in the oil and gas industry were horizontal or directional, compared to just 19 percent of completed vertical wells, the EIA found in its recently added data series on crude oil and natural gas well completions and drilled footage for U.S. wells completed since 2010.

The number of completed oil and gas wells fell by 66 percent between 2010 and 2021. Total drilling length also dropped, by 30 percent. However, U.S. crude oil production has more than doubled, and U.S. gross withdrawals of natural gas have increased by 55 percent, the EIA said.

That’s because of technology improvements in the average footage of wells drilled—this footage more than doubled from 7,300 feet per well to 15,200 feet per well between 2010 and 2021.

“Horizontal and directional wells are longer than vertical wells, allowing them to access more geologic formations that contain crude oil and natural gas, which increases those wells’ productivity,” the EIA noted.

Since the August 2020 low in the number of operating rigs in the United States, the rig count has risen every month to reach 636 operating rotary rigs in February 2022, according to EIA’s monthly estimates based on Baker Hughes data.

In the most recent week with available data, the total rig count increased to 693 in the week to April 15—that’s 254 rigs higher than the rig count this time in 2021 and the highest count since April 2020. Drilling has picked up substantially since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, adding 43 rigs in the last seven weeks. The seven weeks preceding the invasion, however, saw 62 rigs added.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Lee James on April 24 2022 said:
    As a citizen of the U.S. I am grateful that the U.S. can be as energy independent as it is.

    However, I find this article a little exuberant on alternative oil-extraction technology. We have to drill long lengths because the oil resource has gone diffuse in this country. It is spread thinly at great depths and we must go wide with long laterals. It is expensive, very expensive to bring in this shale oil resource.

    We are now drilling again because we are running out of drilled-but-uncompleted wells left over from a couple of years ago when oil companies realized they were not profitable for investors. They stopped at drilling down, but without bringing up the resource.

    Our shale oil resource is great, but I think we need to be realistic about what we can expect for the future. Really, we need to develop all the possible sources of energy on the supply side, and reduce where possible how much oil we need on the demand side. That is the reality we face. Cheap crude is no more.

    Today, in addition to the economics of crude oil production, we also have geopolitical considerations. We are literally at war with a system that weaponizes its oil resource.

    And not to forget, this is the month where we think about the health of the planet. Burning oil plays a major role in that.

    Oil is a really big deal and we need to live and act like it is. Technology is a wonderful thing, but it is only a portion of the bigger picture.

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