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Discussion: (2 comments)

  1. kent anderson

    I applaud the increase in oil production, but when I look at these charts, this one and theearlier one, the question that keeps coming back to me is this – why did the oil production decrease so much in the intervening years? If we were producing 7 m barrels a day in 1993, why did we drop down in the 90’s and 2000’s?

    1. The Unknown One

      The technology (fracking and horizontal drilling) was not very well-developed until recently, and the price of oil was not high enough until recently to make those plays profitable, even if the technology was there.

      Until recently, most oil was drilled out of more porous traps (usually sandstone). Those can be drilled with older, conventional technology. The Bakken’s and Eagle Ford shales are source rocks which contain a lot more oil than the conventional traps, but the rock is harder and denser and needs to be stimulated (fracked) to get the oil out. Plus you usually need a horizontal drill to expose the borehole to enough of the source rock to get sufficient quantities of oil out (though there are some source rocks which are so thick, even that isn’t needed). The conventional traps have been (mostly, but not entirely) discovered and gone into decline, which is what happened starting in the 80’s. But once the price went up and the technology for fracking and horizontal drilling got good enough, you now can profitably extract oil from the source rocks.

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