According to a recent report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic crude oil production reached 8.3 million barrels per day (bpd), a 26-year high, in April. By 2015, that figure is expected to hit 9.2 million, which would be the highest level in more than 40 years.
Several major resource plays in Texas are helping drive this increase in productivity, which has generated significant economic benefits for the entire country. In fact, Texas is the home to part or all of three of the six regions–Bakken, Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Marcellus, Niobrara and Permian–that collectively accounted for 90 percent of the growth in U.S. oil production and virtually all of the increase in gas production during 2011 and 2012.
Texas' position as the top oil-producing state looks to be secure for some time to come, given that it produces more than twice as much oil as the number two state, North Dakota. According to Forbes contributor David Blackmon, Texas accounts for 36 percent of domestic oil production and would be the eighth-largest producer in the world if it was an independent nation.
Technology is driving increases in productivity
The Eagle Ford is one of the most prolific shale formations. According to new estimates developed by the EIA, the average amount of oil that can be recovered from each well in the region over the course of its lifecycle is now more than 168,000 barrels. The agency predicts that output will continue to rise, with the formation's total production exceeding 1.4 million bpd during June.
However, there is wide variation in productivity between different areas of the shale formation. Wells in the most productive county, DeWitt, were found to have an average estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) of 334,000 barrels, while the median for the 32 counties that comprise the Eagle Ford region is 103,000.
Besides geography, another relevant factor is the age of the well. Productivity declines as a well gets older, which means that newer wells with less available production data may have unrealistically high EUR ratings.
Aging equipment can also reduce production efficiency and lead to substantial risks. Well operators should reach out to a CNC machine shop with industry experience to have parts replaced before they become completely worn out and fail at a critical moment, as this could cause injuries or environmental impacts, potentially leading to the shutdown of a well and substantial financial losses.
As oil and gas companies deploy increasingly sophisticated equipment to capitalize on emerging production opportunities, the need for qualified machining services will continue to grow. And new technologies will definitely be needed to maintain the industry's current momentum, according to EIA analyst Dana Van Wagener.
"There is still a great deal of uncertainty underlying the recovery of tight oil in known plays as well as the potential for production from additional plays or other layers within a currently productive formation that has not been tested," Van Wagener wrote in a recent report. "The application of refinements to current technologies, as well as new technology advances, can also have significant but uncertain impacts on the recoverability of tight and shale crude oil."
In a recent article for Bloomberg View, energy industry analyst Robert Bryce explained that although the results of innovation can seem unpredictable, it is clear that investments in new oilfield technologies continue to yield significant benefits, making wells not only more productive, but also more efficient. For example, the average amount of time it takes to drill a well in the Woodford shale has dropped by almost 50 percent since 2007.