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John Westwood, center (image courtesy of Douglas-Westwood)

From 2014 through 2020, the global oil and gas industry must drill over 670,000 wells in order to meet forecasts of oil and gas demand.

That’s according to a study released Wednesday by energy market research firm Douglas-Westwood.

The ‘World Development Drilling & Production Forecast’ said that in 2013, oil and gas development wells drilled totalled over 79,000.

But annual well numbers will need to exceed 106,000 between 2014 and 2020 to meet global oil and gas demand, which is set to increase 17% by 2020.

Douglas-Westwood chairman John Westwood said: “As the easiest-to-access oil and gas reserves deplete, each year we have to drill more and more wells for less and less production per well. Over the period, numbers of development wells drilled need to grow 35% to enable oil and gas production to meet an expected demand growth of 17%. This effect is most marked onshore where by 2020 we expect production to grow by 15%, whereas offshore production should grow at 21% due to developments in deepwater.”

Matt Cook, a Douglas-Westwood geologist, said: “In 2013, 113 deepwater oil and gas development wells were drilled but by 2018 this number should reach over 400; meanwhile production will grow from 6 million boe/d to 9.5 million boe/d.”

The drilling industry globally will remain dominated by onshore activity, accounting for 97% of well completions and 71% of global output, the report said.

The full Douglas-Westwood report is here.