Rystad Energy - Energy Knowledge House
Rystad Energy - Energy Knowledge House

Press Release

US fracking slowdown set to add at least two years of backlog work as DUC wells pile up

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The slowdown in US fracking activity that the Covid-19 pandemic-driven downturn brought this year has caused an inventory increase of about 750 drilled but uncompleted (DUC) wells just in the last three months, a Rystad Energy analysis of major liquid basins finds. The backlog, which will likely increase in June, is equivalent to about two years of fracking at the current pace.

When it comes to the regional trends for the inventory of drilled wells awaiting frac services, we see a particularly strong build-up in the Permian Basin where almost 500 wells were added over the past three months. All other major liquids basins combined saw a build-up of about 270 wells in the same period.

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“Usually there is a typical DUC build-up during winter months and a gradual drawdown during the spring and summer months. Contrary to the norm, in the last three months this metric jumped to 15 to 25 months of frac activity. However, in the second half of 2020 we might see a modest rebound in fracking without extra drilling,“ says Rystad Head of Shale Research Artem Abramov.


Learn more about Rystad Energy’s ShaleWellCube.

Drilled wells awaiting frac services have exceeded 5,700 assets at the end of May 2020, the highest level since at least December 2017. In the end of 2019, DUC levels were at just above 5,300 assets while in February, which is an interim low, the number fell to just below 5,000.

The build-up since then is primarily driven by the wells that were drilled recently and are currently less than six months old (i.e. total depth was reached less than six months ago, but frac operations have not been started yet). This part of the inventory has increased from 1,651 wells at the end of 2019 to 2,970 wells now.

In our view, this is currently the most representative part of the DUC inventory, which suggests that many recent wells are left uncompleted and will probably be carried all the way into 2021, so the industry is well positioned to boost or protect production while staying within relatively low capex levels.

For more analysis, insights and reports, clients and non-clients can apply for access to Rystad Energy’s Free Solutions and get a taste of our data and analytics universe.



Artem Abramov
Head of Shale Research
Phone: +47 24 00 42 00


Lefteris Karagiannopoulos
Media Relations Manager
Phone: +47 90228994


About Rystad Energy
Rystad Energy is an independent energy research and business intelligence company providing data, tools, analytics and consultancy services to the global energy industry. Our products and services cover energy fundamentals and the global and regional upstream, oilfield services and renewable energy industries, tailored to analysts, managers and executives alike. Rystad Energy’s headquarters are located in Oslo, Norway with offices in London, New York, Houston, Aberdeen, Stavanger, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, Singapore, Bangalore, Tokyo, Sydney and Dubai.