Current Issue: February 2015 ///
E&P spending may fall below $700 billion in 2015, as budgets will be dictated by cash flow and access to capital, according to a survey of the spending plans of approximately 300 companies worldwide.
An $85/bbl oil price outlook is maintained for 2016, as weak oil prices, balance sheets, and significantly reduced drilling activity will create a net, non-OPEC supply decline in 2016. For North American natural gas, it is much the same story—less drilling activity makes for less gas production growth in 2016, and a much tighter market.
A Republican tsunami in the 2014 midterm elections could be good news for the energy industry. With solid majorities in both houses of Congress, Republicans are in a position to heavily influence the direction of U.S. energy policy. However, many new oil & gas-related regulations are being considered and implemented.
The downward slide in crude oil prices is expected to have a proportional impact on oil-directed drilling in the United States. On the other hand, the Henry Hub gas price has remained under $4/Mcf since 2010, so gas-directed drilling is expected to remain steady during 2015.
While the ongoing oil-price decline is bound to affect the U.S. rotary rig count in the coming year, 2014 saw a significant increase over the previous year—especially in the regions where one might expect that to happen. The average rig count for 2014 was above 1,860 rigs running, a 6% increase year-over-year, or about 100 rigs higher. The Permian basin of West Texas and New Mexico experienced the greatest increase in activity, with the rig count rising 16% to 17% on average, or about a 60-rig improvement. Activity in the Eagle Ford shale region of south-central Texas shot up about 35%, or an average of 16 additional rigs running for the year.
Crude oil and condensate. U.S. crude oil production surged broadly across different regions in 2014, particularly in the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale plays of North Dakota and Texas, respectively. Crude oil prices spent much of the summer of 2014 hovering above $100/bbl, which kept operators’ gaze firmly fixed on petroleum liquids. As prices declined modestly into the fall, production kept up a blistering pace, surpassing 9 MMbpd in October.
The number of producing oil wells in the U.S. rose 3.5% in 2014, to an estimated 600,679. This figure is in line with the 2012-2013 improvement of 3.5%.
The number of producing gas wells in the U.S. rose significantly over the course of the last year, despite prices that seldom crept above $4/MBtu. In 2013, there were 485,000 active producing gas wells in the U.S. In 2014, that number rose to 514,782.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. crude oil and condensate proved reserves increased for the fifth consecutive year, in 2013, up 3.1 Bbbl to 36.5 Bbbl. Proved reserves of natural gas set a record, increasing 31.3 Tcf to 354 Tcf.
An oversupplied market spells a difficult year ahead for operators, although less so for activity outside North America.
Depressed oil prices are exacting a heavy toll as budget cuts, layoffs, shut-in production, deferred projects, and belt-tightening dominate the Canadian landscape.
According to Mexico’s National Commission on Hydrocarbons (CNH), of the 21 exploratory wells drilled in Mexico during the first three quarters of 2014, only seven had commercially viable oil or gas production. CNH also said that state firm Pemex originally had intended to drill 53 exploratory wells, and was not only far behind in its drilling schedule, but also experiencing a very low success rate.
A new, integrated underreamer, with real-time communications, was used to underream 6,555 ft in a North Sea well with minimal vibrations. An in-gauge borehole made it easy for successful running, rotation and cementing of a 4,300-ft liner.
An advanced, solids-free epoxy resin was applied for gas shut-off in a difficult-to-abandon well in Colombia. The versatile system allowed the well to be brought back into line with governmental regulations.
Well abandonment can involve isolating and abandoning several sections of a well, resulting in a costly, time consuming process. Multiple cement plugs and numerous trips are required, and it is essential that the plug is set in clean casing. Coretrax, a UK-based specialist in wellbore clean-up and abandonment, has been working since 2009 to streamline this process by improving the way bridge plugs are installed during wellbore abandonment programs in the North Sea, having helped successfully abandon 84 wells between 2013 and 2015.
The oil price collapse of recent months will prompt a strategy re-think for oil and gas firms operating in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Progress in developing Israel’s Leviathan field will be watched closely by the industry, as it weighs further investment in the Levant basin.
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