IHS: U.S. Shale Growth Still Strong, Despite Lower Oil Prices

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The dip in oil prices isn't making a huge impact yet on the vast majority of U.S. shale production.

According to a report by research consultancy IHS Energy, most shale plays are economic and ~80% of potential drilling in 2015 would remain strong at WTI crude oil prices as low as $70 per barrel.

Since 2008 the cumulative growth in U.S. tight oil production has been 3.5 million b/d—far exceeding supply gains from the rest of the world combined—making tight oil the key driver of global supply growth,” said Jim Burkhard, Vice President, IHS. “While current lower crude oil prices do present challenges for new investment, IHS analysis shows that the vast majority of potential U.S. supply growth in 2015 remain economical at $70 for WTI.

WTI traded at ~$76 on Monday, a nearly 20% drop since September. As a result, operators in Texas, including ConocoPhillips and Eagle Ford-focused Clayton Williams, have already announced plans to potentially scale back their drilling programs in 2015.

Read more: Worried About Oil Prices? What to Expect in the Eagle Ford

Growth Still High, But Expected to Slow in U.S. Shale Plays

At lower prices, growth will slow, but still remain high, according to the IHS report. In 2015, IHS estimates U.S. shale production will grow by 700,000 b/d at an average price of $77 per barrel in 2015. By contrast, in 2014, growth from U.S. shale plays was more than 1-million b/d.

Approximately 80% of anticipated production has a break-even price between $50 to $69 per barrel, according to IHS analysis.

Expectations of the future—and the trajectory of oil prices—means that prices do not need to fall to the breakeven price before psychology, investment, and thus output, is affected.

The report notes that existing tight oil production is unaffected by the recent drop in oil prices. Existing wells can remain economical at crude oil prices far below the break-even price for new production because most of their costs are incurred during the initial development phase of the well.

BP's Bob Dudley Shares His Energy Thoughts - IHS CERAWeek

BP's Bob Dudley addressed the crowd at IHS CERAWeek to share the company's view of the industry industry. Mr. Dudley described the global energy journey and his view of the role of the US & Russia in the energy future. [ic-l]The global energy journey includes demand growth that is driven by Asian countries through 2030. Non-fossil fuels that will account for 1/5th of energy in 2030 and global oil demand is expected to rise by 16 mmbbls/d. The projected increase in oil demand is more than Canada, Russia, and the UAE produced in 2011.

Mr. Dudley stated "Turning to supply, many in the industry used to worry about whether demand on this scale could be met......but there hasn't been much talk of "peak oil" lately."

Shale and deepwater plays have driven oil and gas production higher to a point where we believe we have 54 years of proved oil reserves and 64 years of proved gas reserves.

North Dakota is only second to Texas in terms of production and has surpassed OPEC member Ecuador over the past few months.


Russia and the US are two energy giants who are driving supply. The US produced 5 mmbbl/d in 2008 and has recently eclipsed 7 mmbbls/d. The deepwater accounts for 18% of US daily production and plays like the Bakken and Eagle Ford has supported onshore production. Along with growing production, the country's import dependency is declining significantly.

Oilfield jobs are open across South Texas and much of the US. High paying oil and gas jobs have helped pull the economy out of the recession. BP is now positioning itself to invest significantly in downstream expansions. The Whiting refinery is expadning to handle growing volumes of Canadian crude. The expansion will be the largest economic investment in the history of Indiana. That will be followed by a $400 million reformer that is being added to the company's Toledo Refinery.

Mr Dudley ended his speech noting that recoverable reserves have grown considerably over the decades:

"...the world's energy companies have produced more oil in the last 40 years than was thought to exist on the entire globe in 1979."

You can follow @EagleFord_Shale on twitter for live updates from the conference.

Eagle Ford Shale Contends for #1 Spot Among Shale Oil Plays

The Eagle Ford's promising economics are not news to anyone in South Texas, IHS reported promising results from a study the research company has underway. Eagle Ford wells are producing better than the Bakken Shale of North Dakota and Montana.

A typical well in the Eagle Ford averages 300 to 600 barrels-per-day (bpd) in its peak month of production, compared with 150 to 300 bpd for a Bakken well, according to the study.

Current Eagle Ford production is just half that of the Bakken, but the ND shale play had a 10-year head start. A little over 200 rigs are drilling in the Bakken vs. ~250 in the Eagle Ford. It's also worth noting that horizontal laterals are consistently 10,000 ft in the Bakken. That's roughly double the most common lateral length in South Texas. That means the Eagle Ford is out producing the Bakken with as little as half the reservoir contact.

All is good news for South Texas. Companies deploy their capital to the areas of their portfolio that provides the best economic returns. In general, the rank of either oil or gas plays doesn't change dramatically over short periods of time. Commodity prices do, but the Eagle Ford is the top play in the U.S. at both $50 and $100 oil prices. In the absence of a severe recession, Eagle Ford development will boost the South Texas economy for decades to come.

You can read more at reuters.com

Eagle Ford Oil Boom - Natural Gas Slump - EagleFordShale.com Quoted

Eagle Ford oil potential has kept drillers interested and even shifting capital to the play over the past year. Both oil and gas prices are up over the past few weeks, but comparatively $92/bbl is much better than $3/mcf. Read the entire article that details rig activity and production growth at chron.com

R.T. Dukes, a director at the website EagleFordShale.com, which posts news about the shale, said oil companies' budgets "are being pressured by natural gas prices, but drilling activity hasn't really slowed down in the Eagle Ford." However, if the price of oil should drop again and gas prices remain low, "you'll probably see some sort of slowdown in the second half of the year."

Yet Dukes remains bullish on the Eagle Ford.

"It's a first-class play in the United States," he said. "That usually doesn't change over short periods of time. On a relative basis, it's still better than most plays in the U.S.," he said.

Should natural gas prices go much higher, "you'll see additional capital come to the Eagle Ford," he said.

Big Firms Say Shale Plays Are Here To Stay

"Shale gases have redefined natural gas supply" is the quote from Hill Vaden of Wood Mackenzie. As large scale firms enter shale plays across the U.S., it is an indication that things have changed for the long term. The Kinder Morgan - El Paso merger is the latest shale driven deal that expands a companies foot print and leverage to the growing shale boom. With Exxon and international companies like Statoil in the fray, you can bet many of the development decisions that are made today are part of long - very long term plans. Shale plays are ushering in a new wave of domestic development. Just visit North Dakota, Pennsylvania, or Texas if you don't believe me.

Since 2008, energy companies have spent $133 billion on mergers and acquisitions related to shale, according to energy research firm IHS-Herold. That's more than China spends on its military annually — the second-largest defense budget in the world behind the United States'.

And that includes just companies gaining access to the acreage and resources for shale drilling. It doesn't count Kinder Morgan's $21.1 billion deal to buy El Paso Corp. and its network of natural gas pipelines.

Read the entire news release at mysanantonio.com