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March 14, 2011

Crude oil and condensate production rises at Bakken and other U.S. shale plays

Liquids production (crude oil and condensate) is rising significantly at several shale plays in the United States as operators increasingly target the liquids-bearing portions of these formations.

In North Dakota, for example, total liquids production has risen nearly 150% since 2005 due primarily to escalating development of the Bakken shale (which extends into Montana). Using similar horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies applied to the Nation's shale gas plays, operators increased Bakken production from about one million barrels in 2005 to nearly 50 million barrels in 2009, or about 135,000 barrels per day. Excluding Bakken volumes, the State's liquids production increased by only about 5% over the same period.

Shale plays known primarily for natural gas production—or where horizontal drilling initially targeted natural gas—are also seeing accelerating liquids-focused drilling.

  • At the Barnett in Texas, overall liquids production more than doubled (and production from horizontal wells swelled roughly six-fold) from 2005 to 2009.
  • Liquids production from the Woodford in Oklahoma surpassed one million barrels in 2009, up 83% from 2008 and nearly eight times 2007 volumes.
  • At the Eagle Ford formation in Texas, liquids production in 2009 grew more than five-fold over the previous year, and is on pace to exceed five million barrels in 2010.
  • Liquids production from Appalachia's Marcellus shale nearly quadrupled in 2009 and is expected to show another considerable increase in 2010.

The number of oil rigs drilling horizontal wells rose significantly through the first half of 2010. Further increases are likely as operators sharpen their focus on liquids in these and other shale plays.