July 13 (Reuters) - Oil production from U.S. shale in August is expected to fall by the most since at least 2007, according to the U.S. agency tasked with tracking oil output, the latest sign a price rout will shrink the nation's crude output.
Oil production from the largest U.S. shale plays will plunge in August for a fourth consecutive month, forecasts from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed on Monday.
Output was expected to decline by 91,000 barrels per day, 12 percent over July's forecast production decline, to 5.4 million bpd, the lowest level since November for the seven shale plays tracked in EIA's productivity report.
Energy firms fired thousands of workers and cut back on new drilling after U.S. crude futures collapsed 60 percent from over $107 a barrel in June 2014 to near $42 in March on oversupply concerns and lackluster world demand.
Despite the cuts, however, U.S. production averaged 9.6 million bpd during the week ended July 3 for a seventh week in a row, its highest level since the early 1970s, according to the most recent government data.
Several energy firms decided to return to the well pad during May and June when prices averaged $60 a barrel after rebounding off the March lows. The firms have not publicly changed those new drilling plans even though crude prices fell last week and were now trading around $52 a barrel.
In the Bakken shale play, for example, North Dakota regulators said the state's well count hit a record high in May with producers deciding to hydraulically fracture more freshly drilled wells, bucking a trend to mothball them. Drilling permit applications also spiked.
Oil production in the Bakken in North Dakota and Montana was expected to fall 22,000 bpd to 1.2 million bpd in August, while Eagle Ford oil production in South Texas was expected to drop 55,000 bpd to 1.5 million bpd.
Oil production in the Permian play of West Texas and New Mexico, the biggest U.S. shale oil play, however, was expected to rise 5,000 bpd to 2.0 million bpd.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Paul Simao, Bernard Orr)
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