Oil production from the United States' biggest shale plays is poised to keep expanding at the same breakneck pace into early next year, according to new U.S. projections released that highlighted a slow response to tumbling prices.
Oil production from the three main plays - the Bakken, Eagle Ford and Permian Basin - is set to rise by some 103,000 barrels per day (bpd) in January from December, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.
That's just a hair below December's 105,000 bpd rise, and a faster rate than most months this year. Well productivity continues to grow, as drillers get better at squeezing more barrels of crude out of each well - and out of each dollar. Each new Bakken well is set to produce some 550 barrels a day in January, up from under 500 bpd as recently as June, the data showed.
A more than 40 percent slump in global oil prices since summer, and Saudi Arabia's refusal to cut output to prop up the market, has put a spotlight on the U.S. shale industry, which is expected to slow after four years of growth due to lower prices.
Production from the Bakken formation will rise by some 27,000 bpd to 1.25 million bpd, while Eagle Ford oil production will rise by some 30,000 bpd to 1.69 million bpd, according to the EIA's drilling productivity report.
Oil production from the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico will see output grow 46,000 bpd to 1.87 million bpd, the EIA said. Natural gas production in the major shale plays meanwhile is expected to grow 0.6 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) month-over-month to 44.7 bcfd in January. Gas production increases will be driven primarily by output from the Marcellus centered under Pennsylvania and West Virginia, which will rise to 16.3 bcfd in January from 16.1 bcfd in December, EIA data showed.
Gas output at the Eagle Ford in South Texas will gain about 0.1 bcfd to 7.4 bcfd in January. Haynesville near the borders of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas will also gain near 0.1 bcfd to 6.9 bcfd in January.