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U.S. Shale Output Nears 9 Million Bpd

Crude oil production from the seven major shale plays in the United States could hit 8.971 million bpd next month, growing by 58,000 barrels per day, the Energy Information Administration said in its latest Drilling Productivity Report.

Not surprisingly, the bulk of the increase will come from the Permian, where the EIA expects production to jump by 63,000 bpd in November. However, production in the Eagle Ford and the Anadarko play will decline by 12,000 bpd and 13,000 bpd, respectively, offsetting some of the gains.

The Permian will this month produce an estimated 4.547 million bpd of crude, far ahead of all the other shale plays. The Bakken ranks second in terms of production, at 1.477 million bpd, to rise to 1.488 million bpd in November. The Eagle Ford is third, with production averaging 1.378 million bpd this month.

At the same time, the EIA reported the number of drilled but uncompleted wells has been declining across the shale board. Drilled but uncompleted wells are a gauge of the industry’s readiness to boost production at short notice, which is important for traders’ peace of mind in times of heightened volatility. They also recently became the focus of criticism from industry insiders against the EIA, which, according to them, significantly overestimated the number of these wells.

In September, the EIA said, DUCs in the U.S. shale patch declined by 206 from August to 7,740. In the Permian, drilled but uncompleted wells last month totaled 3,668, down by 49 from August. This, according to historical EIA data, was the biggest drop in DUCs since 2013 when the agency started tracking these.

These are all aspects of a trend: the U.S. shale boom is slowing and capital is getting harder to secure, too. Banks have been reassessing the lending base for the oil and gas industry and the results may disappoint the latter amid persistent forecasts about slowing oil demand on a global scale. This, in turn, would mean a further slowdown in production growth.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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