The Bakken is one of North America’s largest oil-rich shale plays. Longer horizontal well bores and widespread use of hydraulic fracturing spurred soaring production. North Dakota now ranks second among U.S. oil-producing states – and a large portion of the domestic drilling rig fleet will be retrofitted to walking or skidding systems by year-end. More than 70% of Bakken oil moves by rail tank car, giving crude-by-rail the leading role for getting Bakken production to market. Economic impacts are seen state-wide as North Dakota proudly claims the nation’s lowest unemployment and a per-person gross domestic output significantly higher than the national average.
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With an estimated 7 to 10 billion barrels of oil lying in wait, the Eagle Ford is one of the largest unconventional resource plays under development globally. Over 3,200 wells were completed in the region in 2013 alone. To date, oil and gas activity in the Eagle Ford has created 116,000 jobs and contributed $60 billion to the U.S. economy. That’s impressive, considering just five years ago the Eagle Ford was virtually inactive. The first commercial discovery in 2008 by Petrohawk Energy (now part of BHP Billiton) – a well that flowed at 7.6 million cubic feet of gas per day – launched a surge of activity that is still growing today.Now, top E&Ps like EOG, Chesapeake, Marathon, ConocoPhillips and Anadarko have large-scale operations in the Eagle Ford. The region has become a prime target for investment because of its favorable economics, established infrastructure, proximity to demand centers, and staggering resource availability. Companies with prime locations are seeing more than a 100% rate of return, and the current pace of drilling is expected to continue for at least five more years.
The oil and gas industry has a long-standing history of transforming itself through the development of new technologies. One of its most valuable innovations is pad drilling. This process enables operators to shorten cycle time by drilling multiple wells in tight clusters with minimal time spent rigging up or moving rigs. With multi-well sites, operators have been able to increase production rates while simultaneously decreasing rig counts. And because pad drilling is more efficient, the reductions in drilling time yield substantial cost savings. In the first quarter of 2014, the industry saw a 70% increase in the growth of pad drilling for horizontal wells. These efficiencies are paving the way for future advancements.