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The prize of drilling: Greatest shale wells of the year 2015

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Author: Per Magnus Nysveen, Senior Partner & Head of Analysis

 2015 was not among the best for the US shale wells with outstanding performance. Even though equipment, crews, locations and average well productivity improved, operators demonstrated exceptional cautiousness and avoided testing of “monster” well configuration. As a result, the number of wells with impressive initial results were not at par with the heights of 2012 to 2014. The best well this year in the class of highest initial production does not even make it to the top 10 all-time. Still Chesapeake’s Burns Ranch M3H well in Eagle Ford Shale, Karnes county, produced an impressive average of 3,152 barrel of 39° light oil during the first 30 days. Other nominees were EOG Resources’ Riverview 102-32H in Bakken Shale, McKenzie County, producing 2,804 barrels per day and ranking 40th among all-time high. Also among the nominees was Concho Resources’ W State 1204H well in the Wolfcamp shale, Reeves County, Permian Delaware basin, with 2,579 barrels of 43° light oil produced during 30 days. Some 2015 wells are still not reported, so the final ranking may change.

The all-time high among these gusher wells is still BHP’s LP Butler B 5H well in the heart of Eagle Ford, De Witt County, producing a staggering 6,379 barrels per day of light oil and condensate during 30 days in 2014.

In the class of most sand pumped into the ground, QEP Resources’ State 5-36-TH well in Bakken Shale, McKenzie County, is the winner this year with 13,423 metric tons of sand and ceramics pumped into the vicinity of its fracks. Halliburton serviced this monster well using about 130 rail cars and more than 500 trucks to transport the proppant to the drilling pad. Other nominees were located in the Permian Midland basin, where we observed more than 13,000 metric tons of sand reported for Apache’s Spike S Unit H73M well in Wolfcamp Shale, Irion County and similar amount on Callon’s Pecan Acres 23 PSA 1 #1H well in Midland County. These two wells had well cost of less than 7 MUSD, while breakeven oil prices are 27.8 USD/bbl and 45.8 USD/bbl respectively. The lucky proppant suppliers for these two monster wells were Arepet Industries and Fairmount Santrol.

The all-time high monster well is still Hodenfield 15-7H well in Bakken Shale, Williams County, propped with nothing less than 17,822 metric tons of sand, or about 250 rail cars full. This well was fracked back in 2010, when its operator, Hess, had not yet switched to high-staged low-proppant completions. This well demonstrated an initial potential of 1,476 boe/d, but had a collapsing production profile that resulted in the first year’s average production of only 222 boe/d. Consequently, with high well cost, breakeven oil price was higher than 100 USD/bbl, and it can be inferred that this case served as one of the early reasoning for the low proppant use philosophy of Hess. 

Last year also gave us some of the most economic shale wells ever drilled in the US. Outstanding wells have breakeven oil prices as low as 20-25 USD/bbl. Among the nominees in the class for the most profitable wells at current low oil prices, is private player Blackbrush Oil and Gas’ Yanta et Al Unit 5H well in Eagle Ford Shale, Karnes County, producing 2,470 barrels of 45° mix of light and condensate with 4,600 metric tons of sand at a total cost of 7.86 MUSD. Also nominated is EOG Resources’ State Galileo 6H well producing 2,133 barrels per day of 45° light oil in Bone Spring shale, Loving County, Permian Delaware County, with 3,430 metric tons of sand at a total cost of 5.44 MUSD.

All top 10 results are freely available on smart phones and Ipad at  http://ranks.rystadenergy.com and all-time complete results with more than 100,000 individual wells’ drilling and completion costs and breakeven oil and gas prices are available in NASWellCube Premium from Rystad Energy.



Per Magnus Nysveen, Senior Partner & Head of Analysis
Phone: +47 24 00 42 16
Mobile: +47 99 16 13 09

Julia Weiss, VP Marketing
Phone: +47 48 29 87 61

About Rystad Energy

Rystad Energy is an independent oil and gas consulting services and business intelligence data firm offering global databases, strategy consulting and research products.

Rystad Energy’s headquarters are located in Oslo, Norway, with additional research teams in India. Further presence has been established in Norway (Stavanger), the UK (London), USA (New York & Houston), Russia (Moscow), Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), Africa as well as South East Asia.