An even bigger future for shale gas

The Saudi tactic of overproduction of oil, adopted in order to cripple the new American shale oil and gas industry was successful, as far as it went. Over the last 18 months, the number of fracking wells declined from 1500 to 440 and what oil and gas continues to be produced is loss-making.

However, during this period most producers have been able to improve fracking technology and have brought down the average production cost from about $70 to $80 per barrel of oil equivalent to $40 to $50. Also, most of the 1,000 wells that have gone out of production have been bought by large oil firms. When the world oil and gas price recovers from the present $40 to, let us say, $80 or more then all the fracking wells will be rapidly brought on line again This is what the International Energy Authority thinks will happen, anyway.

This has been a classic case of Unintended Consequences. Not only was the fracking industry forced to be vastly more efficient, but continuing production in the remaining wells has also been revealing that the potential supply from the Permian Basis of West Texas to be hugely greater than was previously realised.

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