U.S. shale oil production is expected to fall for a seventh month in a row in February, declining at about the same rate as the month before as drillers manage to eke out a few more barrels from each new well, U.S. data showed on Monday.
Total output was set to decline by 116,000 bpd to 4.8 million bpd in February compared with January, a U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) drilling productivity report said.
Production was estimated to have fallen by about the same margin in January, despite some expectations that the decline rate would begin to quicken as companies slash spending.
If true, the decline would take U.S. shale output to 638,000 bpd below the March 2015 peak, a far slower drop than many analysts had expected just a few months ago. Shale firms’ resilience in the face of crashing crude oil markets has added to the selloff, pushing prices to near 13-year lows this week.
Bakken production from North Dakota and Montana was set to fall 24,000 bpd, while production from the Eagle Ford in South Texas was expected to fall 72,000 bpd.
But some regions were still growing, 18 months into the oil slump. Production was forecast to rise by 5,000 bpd in the Permian Basin in West Texas and eastern New Mexico, the data showed.
The data added to indications that producers were running out of ways to extract more crude from each well, part of the industry’s efficiency drive that helped them lower costs and maintain spending.
After surging by dozens of barrels per day for much of 2015, the number of barrels likely to be pumped from a new well in the Bakken would rise by 5 to 724 bpd in February, and rise by 2 bpd in the Permian, the EIA data showed.
Total natural gas output would decline for an eighth consecutive month in February to 43.7 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd), the lowest level since February 2015. That would be down over 0.4 bcfd from January, making it the biggest monthly decline since January 2015, according to the EIA data.
The biggest regional decline was expected to be in the Marcellus formation in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, down 0.2 bcfd to 15.2 bcfd in February, the lowest level of output in the basin since August 2014.
That would be the biggest monthly decline in the Marcellus since March 2014 and would be the eighth monthly decline in a row in gas output for the region.