We have a winner. Texas' Eagle Ford Shale beat North Dakota's Bakken Shale in the race to top one million barrels of oil production per day. This is according to new data from the EIA which estimates that the Eagle Ford Shale hit one million barrels per day in August, while the Bakken's production surged to 910,000 barrels per day.
Many energy producers have turned to the Eagle Ford to grow oil production over the past few years. The play has been a real savior to natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK ) . The nation's number two natural gas producer has used the play to increase its output of more profitable oil and natural gas liquids. Since 2011 Chesapeake Energy has grown this liquids-rich production in the Eagle Ford by 44% annually. Looking ahead, Chesapeake sees more than 3,400 future drilling locations meaning production growth out of this Texas oil field isn't about to slow down anytime soon.
Likewise, Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE: APC ) has seen its Eagle Ford production surge over the past few years. Since 2009, its production has grown by more than 100% annually, though that is off of a very low base. Like Chesapeake Energy, Anadarko doesn't see its production growth tapering off. That's because the company sees more than 2,500 future wells sites, which it estimates will deliver an average of 600,000 barrels of oil equivalent production over the lifetime of each well.
One of the reasons that production out of the Eagle Ford has been surging is because producers are finding out how to get more oil out of each well. EOG Resources (NYSE: EOG ) , which is the largest producer in the Eagle Ford, is a great example of a company that has steadily grown its initial well production rates. In 2009, an average EOG Resources' well would begin its life producing 483 barrels of oil per day. This year, however, EOG's average new well starts by producing 1,226 barrels of oil per day. EOG Resources has really focused on getting more oil out of each well, and one way it has done that is by increasing the lateral length. The following charts show how successful that endeavor has been for EOG Resources.
Longer wells are just one part of the solution to increasing the Eagle Ford's oil output. ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP ) , for example, has been using science-based experimentation to optimize its recoveries in both the Eagle Ford and Bakken. It has been pursuing a multitude of promising technologies, which are starting to show up in its results. Since 2010 ConocoPhillips has increased the estimated ultimate recoveries of each newly drilled Eagle Ford shale well by 100%, while increasing Bakken recoveries by 50%.
Energy companies in both the Eagle Ford and Bakken shale plays are getting better at designing wells that will produce more oil. This rapid change in techniques has enabled the Eagle Ford Shale to win the race to daily oil production topping a million barrels of oil. That said, the race isn't over as the next stop is two million barrels of oil per day, which is the goal that the Bakken's top producer has set for the play.
How to profit from America's oil boom
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