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North American unconventional drilling success

Oilfield Technology,

Unconventional oil and gas has provided a much-needed lifeline to the North American upstream sector. Shale oil and gas plays have seen the USA reverse decades-long production decline, whereas oil sands have helped Canadian crude output rally after fluctuating since the turn of the millennium. Following the 2007 financial crisis, USA well completions crashed to around 27 500 in 2009 – just 60% of 2008 levels. The effect on Canada was more immediate, with well completions falling 28% from 2007-8.

However, since this volatile period, activity has recovered well – Douglas-Westwood (DW) predict that in 2014 Canada will drill 10,700 wells development wells and the USA 40,100. By the end of the year USA crude output will have gained nearly 3 million bpd since 2011 and, with a similar amount to be added again by the end of the decade, production could reach 12.7 million bpd in 2020. This will be due to the ever-growing strength of the country's shale plays – the Bakken alone is set to up its flow by two-thirds to approximately 1.75 million bpd.

Canadian oil sands production, which has trebled to 2.2 million bpd from 2000-2013, will reach 3.2 million bpd by 2020 – contributing to an unprecedented high of 4.2 million bpd by 2020. Despite maturing fields, Canada’s gas output should return to pre-recession levels by 2018 with the continuing success of horizontal drilling in western unconventional provinces. Also paving the way for increased production in Western Canada will be the Kitimat LNG facility, which will allow 10 million t of exports per year. With the current restrictions on US LNG exports likely to be lifted in the coming years, the already enormous potential of shale gas in the country will grow further. With this in mind, DW predict over 50,000 gas wells will be drilled from 2014-20 – and gas output reach 13.6 million boepd in 2020, just 0.2 million boepd shy of Russia’s daily production.

Written by R. Michael Haney, Douglas-Westwood Houston.Edited by Katie Woodward

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