23 October 2013, News Wires – The Eagle Ford shale of South Texas has nosed ahead of the rival Bakken play of North Dakota in the race to produce 1 million barrels per day of oil, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
The EIA’s new monthly Drilling Productivity Report says total production from the Eagle Ford hit the 1 million-bpd milestone in August and expects output to rise to 1.07 million bpd in October, and to 1.09 million bpd in November, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, the Bakken, which continues to set monthly production records for North Dakota, is expected to produce 935,000 bpd in October and 960,000 bpd in November, the EIA said.
“A year ago if you’d asked if this would have happened, I wouldn’t have seen such growth (in Eagle Ford),” Wood Mackenzie analyst Phani Gadde told Reuters.
“(But) the well performance has been really good. Production increased pretty dramatically as operators reduced the backlog of well completions. It increased relatively steeply at the beginning of this year,” he told the news wire.
The report is the first effort by the federal government to gauge production data from specific oil and gas plays in the US. It also looks at the Haynesville, Marcellus, Niobrara and Permian basins.
Estimates of regional production figures can be inaccurate and often incomplete.
Wood Mackenzie forecasts for Eagle Ford are slightly lower than the EIA’s at 940,000 and 950,000 bpd for October and November and higher for Bakken at 970,000 and 990,000 bpd for the same two months, Reuters said.
Rival consultants IHS put Eagle Ford output at 900,000 bpd as of August, ahead of the Bakken and Three Forks at 847,000 bpd, said Steve Trammel, research director and advisor.
The North Dakota Mineral Resources Department said earlier this month that Bakken production was at about 910,000 bpd, and is expected to hit the 1 million bpd mark by year’s end.
A recent Bloomberg analysis said the top nine producing Eagle Ford fields were pumping around 664,000 bpd, according to preliminary regulatory data.
Longer term, Gadde says, the consultancy is far more bullish than the EIA – the federal body sees total US shale oil production of 2.8 million bpd by 2020 while Wood Mackenzie estimates it to be around 5 million bpd.
“We kind of have both plays going close, neck and neck through to 2020. Both players are offering very good returns,” he said of Bakken and Eagle Ford.
Gadde said the consultancy looks carefully at individual company plans and capital allocation and takes into account its own commodity price forecasts – a methodology that takes into account more commercial aspects than the EIA’s methods.
The EIA says its data is extrapolated from rig counts, estimated additional production per rig and existing well production declines in contrast to new well production.