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Stripper oil wells remain large portion of US wells, but share of output falling: EIA

Houston — US stripper wells, which produce an average of less than 15 b/d, account for more than 80% of all US oil wells, roughly the same percentage from nearly two decades ago, but account for a much smaller share of overall US oil output, according to US Energy Information Administration ata released Monday.

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As US oil production reached new records, stripper wells remained a large portion of overall US oil wells, but high-producing wells account for a far larger percentage of overall production than they did back in 2000 as average output from stripper wells has dipped, the data shows.

Since 2000, the number of US stripper oil wells has grown from about 319,500 wells, or about 85% of all wells at the time, to nearly 352,000 wells in 2017, about 81% of all US oil wells.

In 2000, stripper wells accounted for 285.3 million barrels of US oil output, accounting for more than 15% of total production. That percentage grew to over 18% by 2008. By 2017, however, stripper wells accounted for 285.8 million barrels of output, just 500,000 barrels more than in 2000, but just 9.5% of total US production, the data shows.

The data was included in an annual EIA report on production rates of US oil and natural gas wells. The report groups producing oil and gas wells into 26 production volume brackets from less than 1 boe/d to more than 12,800 boe/d.

The EIA defines a stripper well, also known as a marginal well, as an oil well which produces 15 b/d or less over a calendar year.

In 2000, US stripper wells produced, on average, 2.5 b/d, compared with 2.4 b/d in 2017. But production from all wells averaged 20.6 b/d in 2017, up from the overall US rate of 14 b/d in 2000 and the highest overall production rate for US wells since EIA began tracking well productivity.

Advancements in drilling technology and the growth of horizontal wells, which accounted to 12% of all US oil and gas wells in 2017, pushed an increase in the number of wells producing between 100 boe/d and 3,200 boe/d.

In 2017, nearly 53% of all oil wells produced between 100 b/d and 3,200 b/d, compared with about 43% in 2000. -- Brian Scheid, brian.scheid@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Richard Rubin, newsdesk@spglobal.com