Exploration drilling and well completion rates have fallen by more than half from year ago levels, according to a new report.

According to the American Petroleum Institute, estimated U.S. oil well completions fell by 69 percent in the second quarter of 2016 compared to year-ago levels.

That trend confirms other reports of falling well completion rates.

A survey published by Hart Energy last month found that, of the four oil and gas operators and four well service company managers in North Dakota, not one respondent reported doing any completion work in the first quarter.

Estimated exploratory gas well completions fell 84 percent year-over-year in the second.

So far this year, development well footage has tumbled 53 percent and exploratory well footage has fallen by 64 percent, API said.

Upstream budget cuts have eaten away at well completion and drilling rates since oil prices began falling in late 2014.

A report published by Wood Mackenzie last month found that global upstream capital spend budgets have been reduced by 22 percent, or about $740 billion, from 2015 out to 2020.

When cuts to conventional exploration investment are included, that total balloons to just over $1 trillion.

The U.S. Lower 48 have seen the quickest and deepest cuts, with about $125 billion cut from capex budgets from 2016 to 2017, according to the report.

Wood Mac expects another $200 billion to be cut from Lower 48 capex budgets out to 2020.

While the U.S. rig count continues to hover near record lows, U.S. production levels have been slow to react to declining rig counts.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the four-week average U.S. crude production rate fell to 8.611 million barrels per day as of July 1 , just under a million barrels per day shy of year-ago levels.

U.S. crude inventories posted a smaller than anticipated dip last week, after by 2.2 million barrels during the week of June 24.

The decline pushed crude inventories down to 524.4 million, still a historically high level for this time of year, according to the EIA.


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