Eagle Ford Production to Keep Growing Through 2014
Production from the Eagle Ford unconventional oil play in South Texas is expected to keep growing through 2014 and to break the 1.5 million barrel per day (bpd) mark in 2015, an analyst told attendees at the Platts’ North America Crude Conference in Houston Feb. 27-28.
Between now and the end of 2018, 4.4 million barrels of crude are expected to be produced in North America, said Suzanne Minter, manager of crude and natural gas analysis with Bentek Energy. In 2013, 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude production was grown; crude production this year will exceed that number, Minter noted.
While infrastructure projects will bring this crude production to market, little has been done to grow incremental demand in the North America Lower 48 market, Minter noted. For this reason, the light crude market should be pretty aggressive and competitive in the near-term; by year end, Bentek believes that North America crude production will have pushed out all light sweet waterborne imports, Minter said.
Last year was phenomenal in terms of oil production. In 2012, North America crude production grew 10 percent year over year; in 2013, it grew 17 percent year over year to 1.4 million bpd. This growth comes on the heels of decades of consistent but gradual decline, Minter said. North America crude production has experienced a “strong, quick” reversal to the steady, gradual decline previously seen in oil production.
“For every barrel we produced, we have pushed out one corresponding barrels of crude, which says that, in 2013, we imported 1.2 million bpd less than in 2012,” said Minter.
Bentek anticipates the production boom to continue, with lots of natural gas liquids and crude oil coming online, based on the number of rigs active in the middle of the North American continent. The rig count declined from 2011 to 2012, yet production increased. In 2013, more rigs were brought back into the fleet because demand and prices incentivized operators to do so. This increase in the rig fleet will bring even more production online, Minter noted.
Most North America plays win in terms of initial rates of return (IRR). Light condensate will continue to lead production growth, but notable growth also is occurring in heavy crude production, Minter noted.
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