Texas crude production soars, but signs of slowdown emerge

AUSTIN –Texas oil production continued a strong pace of growth in recent months, but signals of a slowdown are starting to show up in drilling data, state officials reported Tuesday.

According to preliminary figures from the Texas Railroad Commission, crude oil production amounted to 2.21 million barrels a day for October, a 26 percent increase over the 1.75 million produced in October 2013. The commission has reported similar year-over-year growth rates all year.

The October figures represent the approximate midpoint of a price collapse that began last summer, when benchmark crude peaked above $100 a barrel. Through the last two weeks, prices have held steadily in the mid-$50s.

Since Thanksgiving, when Saudi Arabian oil officials announced plan to maintain their production levels despite the price decline, Texas producers have been scrambling to recalculate and re-recalculate the economics of their investments in the state’s shale fields. Some have announced layoffs and cancelled plans, though many wells already underway may be too expensive to shut down.

As of Dec. 19, the statewide rig count fell to 867, a decline from 901 in November and 904 in October, the commission said, citing statistics from Baker Hughes. The state still accounts for roughly 48 percent of all active land rigs in the United States, the commission said.