Thought Leadership

Wells in focus: Overview of global well activity

Around 70,000 new oil and gas wells were drilled globally last year at a total cost of $325 billion, but benchmarking wells to assess which companies, sectors or regions are doing best presents challenges, as different wells are exposed to different factors. An onshore well will on average produce 500,000 to 1 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) over its lifetime, while a deepwater well can typically produce 30 million boe. The last decade has also seen considerable improvements in well productivity across the board, making new wells more commercial. Rystad Energy’s E&P Well Analysis product, which provides our most granular dataset to date, contains data on monthly well-level production and information about all wells globally, allowing to easily benchmark wells on various dimensions.

Read our special insight from Johannes Berge, Analyst, Upstream Research at Rystad Energy.

From 2000 to 2014, the number of completed production and exploration wells globally steadily increased, reaching over 100,000 new wells completed each year in the late 2000s. After the 2014 oil price crash, the number of newly completed wells declined sharply in the two following years, driven mainly by the number of new production wells being halved since 2010. While the number of new wells recovered from 2017 to 2019, the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent oil price drop resulted in another period of reduced activity, declining by around 20,000 wells a year. Activity has since recovered and is projected to remain stable towards 2025. Since 2000, around 2 million oil and gas wells have been completed globally.

Using the granular data capability of Rystad Energy’s E&P Well Analysis product, we can map the location of all wells completed globally, and the map below shows the location of all wells drilled in 2023 as a heatmap. North American shale wells and conventional onshore wells in mainland China and Russia are large drivers of the well count for onshore, accounting for 70% of the global onshore well count last year. The large NOCs dominate conventional onshore activity. PetroChina is the company that has completed by far the most onshore convention wells since 2015, coming in at almost 120,000, and is together with fellow Chinese state player Sinopec responsible for around 75% of the wells completed in China. For offshore, the map indicates high activity in the Gulf of Mexico, Saudi Arabia, on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) and Indonesia, among others. The mentioned areas cover 25% of the offshore well count, which illustrates a more even distribution among countries compared to onshore.

While drilling activity in terms of well count peaked around 2010 and has seen some large fluctuations on a yearly basis since then, operators are still seeking to exploit new discoveries, using new technology and enhanced recovery methods.

Johannes Berge, Analyst, Upstream Research

Rystad Energy’s E&P Well Analysis product allows to benchmark regions against each other and get a global overview of drilling activity. It also enables going down to the well level to assess performance metrics and production for every single well globally.

Related Insights0