Eagle Ford Shale Will Continue To Contribute Significantly Toward Crude Oil Production

February 2014, Vol. 241 No. 2

Production from the Eagle Ford Shale – an unconventional resource play – will continue to grow in 2014, fueling a reduction in net crude imports and driving exports of refined products in the U.S. to pre-1990 levels, says a report from research and consulting firm GlobalData.

The company’s latest report states that the Eagle Ford boasts an even larger resource than initially thought, as companies successfully down-space wells, creating more drilling locations with each well producing increasingly more.

Taryn Slimm, GlobalData’s lead analyst covering U.S. Onshore, says: “With over 250 rigs operating in Eagle Ford, companies are expected to spend $30 billion in capital this year, and nearly all of the major operators are projecting at least five years’ more drilling at the current rapid pace. The most efficient operators in sweet spots are achieving over 100% pre-tax Internal Rates of Return with conservative pricing.”

According to GlobalData, ConocoPhillips is one of these companies due to its operating some of the best acreage in the play. The company’s production in the play is forecast to peak at 225,000 boe/d in 2026. Similarly, BHP Billiton is a key operator as its wells have boasted an extremely high IRR, despite reported costs of $10 million per well in 2011. BHP is forecast to hit peak production of 210,000 boe/d.

GlobalData places EOG Resources as the benchmark for operator performance. Its large acreage position has allowed it to make several long-horizon decisions, including spending $100 million on a rail spur and loading terminal in St. James, LA, to access Louisiana Light Sweet crude (LLS)/Brent pricing. EOG’s production is forecast to peak at 370,000 boe/d.

While most of Chesapeake’s acreage has been generally considered inferior, an advantageous joint venture with China National Offshore Oil Corp. has provided ample capital for development that is forecast to peak at 210,000 boe/d.

Slimm concluded: “Though there are a number of bottlenecks in the Eagle Ford, such as strained pipeline capacity, this play will continue making a significant contribution to U.S. crude oil production over the coming years, as strong economics cushion it from price volatility.”

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