Rig Productivity Versus Per Barrel Costs In The Shale Patch——Calling Out The Red Herrings

By Arthur Berman at Oilprice.com

Rig productivity and drilling efficiency are red herrings.

A red herring is something that takes attention away from a more important subject. Rig productivity and drilling efficiency distract from the truth that tight oil producers are losing money at low oil prices.

Pad drilling allows many wells to be drilled from the same location by a single rig.Rig productivity reflects the increased volume of oil and gas thus produced by each of a decreasing number of rigs. It does not account for the number of producing wells that continues to increase in all tight oil plays.

In other words, although the barrels produced per rig is increasing, the barrels per average producing well is decreasing (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Bakken oil production per rig vs. production per well.

Source: EIA, Drilling Info and Labyrinth Consulting Services, Inc.

(Click image to enlarge)

Rig productivity is a potentially deceptive measurement because it does not consider cost and apparently it always increases. It gives a best of all possible worlds outcome that seems to defy the laws of physics. Drilling productivity gives the false impression that as the rig count approaches zero, production approaches infinity.

Barrels per rig is interesting but the cost to produce a barrel of oil is what matters.

Similarly, drilling efficiency measures the decrease in the number of days to drill a certain number of feet. This is also interesting but, unless we know how it affects the cost to produce a barrel of oil, it is not useful.

The data contained in 10-Q and 10-K SEC forms provides a continuing view of a company’s financial position during the year. This allows us to determine a company’s cost per barrel and its components that rig productivity and drilling efficiency do not provide.

Pioneer, EOG and Continental SEC Filings for The

Originally appeared at: http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/rig-productivity-versus-per-barrel-costs-in-the-shale-patch-calling-out-the-red-herrings/