Report: Horizontal rigs surging in Permian Basin

HOUSTON — Half of the national increase in horizontal drilling for oil over the last five months has happened in the Permian Basin, according to a U.S. Energy Information Administration report.

The new figure highlights just how important the drilling technique is to the West Texas play.

Since Dec. 27, 2013, the number of horizontal, oil-directed rigs in the Permian Basin rose by 63, representing half of the total increase of those types of rigs in the United States.

Horizontal drilling can penetrate a longer segment of a reservoir and thus provide greater production than vertical wells. The technique often is used to drill wells in dense rock formations in the Permian and other regions.

US projections: Oil production soaring as rigs boost efficiency

Though horizontal drilling has been reviving oil and gas activity in West Texas for years, the technique now is growing at an exceptional rate. In early 2013, the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas and the Williston Basin in North Dakota and Montana each had more oil-directed, horizontal drilling rigs than the Permian Basin. But by the end of that year, the Permian led the way, with 215 of those types of rigs, compared to 173 in the Eagle Ford and 164 in the Williston Basin.

Moreover, during the first quarter of 2014, the increase in the number of oil-directed, horizontal rigs in the Permian Basin exceed the combined increase in those rigs in Eagle Ford and Williston Basin fourfold.

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