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U.S. upstream operators plan major drilling boost

Staff Writer | January 28, 2017
The North American upstream industry is set to stage a comeback, according to new data presented by World Oil.
Oil upstream
Oil exploration   According to new data presented by World Oil:
Texas. Drilling in the Lone Star State will rise 26.4 percent, with double-digit increases expected for all 12 of the Railroad Commission districts.

While the gains are being led by the Permian, with some additional recovery in the Eagle Ford, there is also significant improvement under way in conventional activity.

Permian basin. In 2016, operators drilled 3,198 wells in Railroad Commission Districts 8 and 7C, more than originally anticipated.

For 2017, World Oil expects to see 3,999 wells drilled in these districts. For 2017, the industry projects a 10 percent increase in average lateral length for the Permian.

Eagle Ford. In the Eagle Ford's predominantly oil portion, concentrated in District 1, activity should increase 28.3 percent. World Oil predicts that operators will drill 802 wells with an average TD of 14,250 ft.

In the gas-heavy Railroad Commission District 2, operators have said they plan to drill 638 wells to an average TD of 15,400 ft, a gain of 23.9 percent. Activity in District 4 is also forecast to increase 19.1 percent.

Gulf of Mexico. Activity has been at historically low levels in the Gulf over the last several years, and 2016 was the lowest yet, with just 117 wells tallied.

However, a core of deepwater development activity has continued, and it will continue to form the bulk of work in the Gulf. World Oil projects that drilling will increase about nine percent, to 128 wells.

Oklahoma. During 2017, drilling in the state, home to the emerging SCOOP and STACK plays, is expected to increase 38.5 percent overall, with 1,809 wells scheduled for an average TD of around 11,600 ft.

North Dakota. Based on figures from state officials and a proprietary survey of operators, World Oil forecasts that drilling in North Dakota will total 925 wells in 2017, accounting for 18.7 MMft of hole.

Average well depth, including lateral sections, will be approximately 20,250 ft.

Louisiana. Drilling in the northern half of the state is expected to be up a stout 31.2 percent. Meanwhile, in the state's southern half, featuring conventional oil and deep gas wells, activity is recovering at a more measured pace. Wells drilled are forecast to increase 12.8 percent, to 123.

Northeastern states. In Pennsylvania, operators plan to drill 774 wells for a 29 percent increase. In Ohio, drilling should increase 19.1 percent, to 380 wells.

And in neighboring West Virginia, gas-targeted activity is on the rebound, with about half of the wells in the Marcellus. Total wells should reach 245, up 21.9 percent.

Rocky Mountain states. As operators boost drilling in the prolific Niobrara shale, particularly in the DJ basin, Colorado will see its wells drilled rise 34 percent, to 1,012 wells.

New Mexico should see its wells drilled total 710, for an impressive 40.6 percent increase.

California/Alaska. Drilling in California, the bulk of which is accounted for by just four firms, is expected to improve about 30 percent, to 892 wells.

Meanwhile, in Alaska, drilling is forecast to increase 15.2 percent, to 167 wells.