Report: Eagle Ford and Bakken are fastest-growing producers

WASHINGTON — Drilling hotbeds in South Texas and North Dakota are responsible for most of the U.S. oil production growth over the past month, according to a report issued Tuesday.

The Energy Information Administration’s analysis effectively labels the Bakken formation in North Dakota and Montana and the Eagle Ford in South Texas as the top-growing oil producers, among six regions where energy companies are using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to tap dense rock formations. The two formations accounted for 75 percent of the monthly oil production growth across those regions, contributing an extra 50,000 barrels per day in the past month.

Overall oil production from the Bakken climbed 26,000 barrels per day in the past month; in the Eagle Ford, the one-month gain was 24,000 barrels per day. By contrast, the Permian Basin and gas-dense Haynesville, Marcellus, and Niobrara regions together accounted for a gain of 12,000 barrels per day.

West Texas’ Permian Basin didn’t see big gains in oil production over the past month, according to the EIA report, but it remains the biggest absolute oil producer. And Permian production grew by 93,000 barrels per day year-over-year.

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The report also credits gains in drilling efficiency and new well productivity — rather than merely an increase in active drilling rigs — with fueling recent growth in domestic oil and natural gas production. For instance, each rig in the Bakken is now 482 barrels of oil per day, up from 459 a month earlier.

The insights stem from the EIA’s inaugural “drilling productivity report,” which each month will provide data on the output of new wells, the decline rates of old ones and overall production in regions dominated by unconventional “tight” oil and gas development.

But advances in technology — including the boring of multiple wells and laterals that can reach in every direction from single rig — make some traditional measures of oilfield activity practically obsolete.

“The metrics presented in the drilling productivity report are intended to be more informative than traditional indicators of future oil and gas production,” EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski said in a statement. “The report provides a new approach that takes into account changes in the application of technologies that have led to rapid increases in U.S. oil and gas production.”

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