Shale Year-in-Review

By On December 12, 2014 10:49 am

Bismarck Tribune

By Dan Sharp

The surge in shale oil production is having a steady, profound effect on United States crude oil and natural gas supply. In a late-October 2014 report, the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced that domestic oil production had reached a 30-year high with daily production averaging just below nine million barrels (MMbd). (North Dakota now accounts for about 14 percent of the country’s total output – second only to Texas.)

Perhaps even more significant is the impact shale oil is having on the need for foreign imports. In the same report, EIA said daily crude oil imports are down almost 5 percent compared to 2013 levels. That figure leads one to believe what oil people have been saying for the past few years … allowed to develop at its current pace, shale oil could lead the country to oil self-sufficiency by 2020. And, with the U.S. now the world’s leading natural gas producer, a strong natural gas export industry is within sight (given some major regulatory changes.)

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking are gradually becoming the industry’s exploration and production norm. According to EIA, about 60 percent of U.S. domestic production now comes from Bakken-like formations using Bakken-bred techniques. Tight shale now accounts for about 30 percent of the country’s natural gas production – that share will arise to almost one-half in the next 20 years.

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