Image courtesy of Leszek Leszczynski/Flickr.

Well costs at some of the largest onshore plays fell by as much as 30 percent over the last three years, according to a new report commissioned by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The report, published Wednesday, found that average well drilling and completion costs in five onshore areas declined by 25 to 30 percent from 2012 to 2015.

The study was completed by Houston-based IHS Global Inc. and focused on activity in the Bakken, Eagle Ford and Marcellus plays as well as the Midland and Delaware plays within the Permian Basin.

The report found that nominal frac pumping costs have fallen by more than 40 percent since peaking in 2012 even though the number of pumping stages has grown from an average of 20 stages to about 25 stages.

Declining crude prices and a growing supply glut helped push total well costs down by an estimated 15 to 18 percent in 2015 from average 2014 levels.

Total well costs are expected to fall by another 3 percent to 5 percent in 2016.

“The dramatic drop in oil prices has precipitated a huge reduction in drilling and completion services fees,” the report said.

Rig rates dropped by an estimated 25 to 30 percent last year compared to 2014 levels and are expected to fall between 5 percent to 10 percent in 2016 before climbing 5 percent in 2017 and 2018.

Frac equipment and crew costs also declined by nearly a third from 2014 levels and are expected to fall in tandem with declining rig rate costs over the next two years.

The report also found that additional efficiencies will further drive down cost measured in dollars per barrel of oil equivalent by 7 percent to 22 percent during the next two years.

Based on expectations of a continuing global oil supply glut in 2016, drilling costs are expected to continue falling this year as upstreams curb activity levels.

“World-wide production levels are still out of balance with demand expectations, and the higher cost US unconventional plays will bear the brunt of reductions in production as the markets seeks a new balance between supply and demand,” the report said.

Bakken well costs fell from $7.1 million in 2014 to an estimated $5.9 million in 2015, the report said.

The average cost of a well in the Eagle Ford Basin dropped from $7.6 million in 2014 to $6.5 million in 2015 while Marcellus well costs slid by about $5 million year-over-year to $6.1 million in 2015.

Midland Basin wells costs were at $7.7 in 2014, but slid down to an estimated $7.2 million in 2015.

Delaware Basin wells cost fell to $5.2 million in 2015 from $6.6 million in 2014.

“Additional cost decreases will occur in 2016, but by the latter half of that year we expect to see slight recoveries in cost rates,” the report said.


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