Drillers may return to dormant wells as confidence in recovery grows, Rystad says

HOUSTON – Crude prices have climbed high enough that drillers could soon tap into the big backlog of dormant wells left behind in the darkest days of the energy bust, energy experts say.

Click through the gallery above to see an abandoned drilling site near Bigfoot.

The shale industry could bring some 800 dormant wells into production by the end of the year, producing enough crude to stabilize the nation’s falling production by the end of the year, according to Norwegian consultancy Rystad Energy.

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“We’re seeing some companies are becoming more confident now that this is the real recovery,” said Artem Abramov, a senior analyst at Rystad Energy, in an interview. “If they see prices at these levels for a few more weeks, they’ll really accelerate.”

Twenty drilling rigs have already been hoisted back up over U.S. oil fields, and the fleet will probably keep growing. But over the next six months, so-called completion activity could outpace drilling by 30 percent. The term completions is industry shorthand for processes that get a well ready to pump oil, like pouring cement down a well’s gullet.

Tapping into those 800 wells could boost U.S. crude production by as much as 350,000 barrels a day by the end of the year. Rystad said more than 90 percent of the backlog of 4,000 untapped wells would be profitable with crude prices around $50 a barrel.