An EnerCom Special Report: Technology is Driving Returns

Parke A. Dickey, petroleum geologist, once said, “We usually find oil and gas in new places with old ideas. Sometimes, also, we find oil and gas in an old place with a new idea, but we seldom find much oil and gas in an old place with an old idea. Several times in the past we have thought that we were running out of oil and gas, whereas actually we were only running out of ideas.”

At this point in the cycle, there are a lot of good ideas being tested in the field:  low prices force companies to think of ways to get better and cut costs, and they’ve been doing so in spades for the past two years.

Between 2012 and 2016 more than 47,000 horizontal wells were drilled across the U.S. During that time, the continuous improvement in well economics from technology-driven changes has been phenomenal.

In EnerCom’s recent Monthly Energy and Industry Trends report, we asked, ‘does Moore’s Law manifest itself in particular areas of the oil and gas industry?’

To answer the question, we evaluated trends and industry improvements over the last 18 to 24 months from five key basins/formations: Permian, Bakken, Eagle Ford, DJ and Marcellus.

The Oil & Gas Industry is not Running out of Ideas

Source: EnerCom Analytics.  The table above outlines the well economics sensitivity to drilling cost and oil price. Even if well costs return to a $5 million level like we saw in 2014, operators can generate a 10% breakeven price $35 per barrel oil and $2.50 per MMBtu gas prices.

The Oil & Gas Industry is not Running out of Ideas

EnerCom, using its proprietary database, analyzed lease operating expense (LOE) data by quarter for Bakken focused companies (CLR, EOG, ERF, NOG, OAS, WLL ) over the Q1’14 to Q1’16 period. During the nine quarters, operators reduced average LOE expense by 37%.

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