Oil Drilling Technology
14 Million Barrels Per Day... Book It
Scott Sheffield has taken flak from just about everyone in the industry.
Whether they analyze crude oil production, write about it, or study it, people have been writing off his claims for years.
At first glance, you can't really blame them...
He's said the Bakken holds over 24 billion barrels of oil, the Eagle Ford holds 25 billion, and the mighty Permian Basin has a whopping 100 billion barrels of recoverable crude.
Those are some unbelievable numbers...
But once you do the research, there's nothing out there to disprove any of his claims.
And despite the fact that tight oil production is pushing U.S. output toward record levels, there are still naysayers that question his most recent projection.
A few days ago, he said U.S. oil production would hit 14 million barrels per day in the near future.
That would put the U.S. well above any other crude producer in the world — including Saudi Arabia.
Yet this estimate comes with a caveat: The only way to increase production to 14 million barrels per day is to improve oil recovery technology.
So today I'm going to tell you about two technologies that are already boosting recovery rates in every single shale field in the U.S... and I'm not talking about hydraulic fracturing.
But first, let me explain where some of these numbers come from.
An Oil Pioneer
You see, Sheffield is the CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources.
His company has been drilling and studying the Bakken, Eagle Ford, and Permian Basin since hydraulic fracturing took the industry by storm in the late 2000s.
You could say it's fared pretty well over the last few years...
It's no wonder he still makes these bold claims about the three hottest oil plays in the Lower 48.
But as I just hinted, there's some disagreement out there. The Energy Information Administration, for example, expects U.S. oil production to peak at 9.5 million barrels per day in 2016.
Quite frankly, I'm not convinced the EIA believes in its own numbers. One of its analysts recently admitted, “We keep underestimating production.”
That's also not to mention a major drawback with government predictions — they don't factor in new technologies still being tested.
Sheffield himself even said we can only reach 14 million barrels per day if the technology is right.
And there are two to keep an eye out for going forward...
The Next Oil Technology Windfall, and it's Better Than Fracking
One of these technologies is a process that injects carbon dioxide into a fractured well in order to bust up more rock and enhance recovery. And it has worked pretty well so far...
As you can see, injecting CO2 will play a bigger role going forward. It still needs more help, but the future looks bright for this technology, especially now that new coal plants will have to capture most of their carbon emissions.
They can simply sell the excess carbon dioxide to drillers in the U.S., who can then use it to recover more oil and gas from each well they frac.
The process isn't cheap, and it adds a considerable premium to every barrel of oil that's extracted. But the higher crude prices climb over the next few decades, the more economical these enhanced oil recovery techniques will be for operators.
In older plays like the Permian Basin, they're absolutely critical.
For Occidental Petroleum, carbon dioxide flooding accounts for nearly three-quarters of production.
Of course, companies have another ace-in-the-hole to play, too.
Industry insiders refer to it as the Octopus or multi-well drilling, and it's spreading throughout the United States like wildfire.
In fact, it's one of the most efficient ways for a driller to reduce both the time and money it takes to drill oil and gas wells. It is, without question, changing the shale game much in the same way that the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing did a few years ago.
In some cases, the results are jaw-dropping...
Encana Corp., for example, has been able to drill up to 52 wells on a single pad in the Piceance Basin.
And instead of moving the entire rig over five days to a new site, the special drill actually crawls to the next well site on hydraulic feet and starts drilling... all in about two hours.
More important, however, is that individual investors like us stay ahead of the game. That's how my readers and I uncovered a small oil driller utilizing this technology in both the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford — two of the hottest shale plays today.
Until next time,
A true insider in the energy markets, Keith is one of few financial reporters to have visited the Alberta oil sands. His research has helped thousands of investors capitalize from the rapidly changing face of energy. Keith connects with hundreds of thousands of readers as the Managing Editor of Energy & Capital as well as Investment Director of Angel Publishing's Energy Investor. For years, Keith has been providing in-depth coverage of the Bakken, the Haynesville Shale, and the Marcellus natural gas formations — all ahead of the mainstream media. For more on Keith, go to his editor's page.
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