US crude oil and natural gas production hit record high levels in 2019 despite fewer rigs and wells operating, the country's Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Thursday.
Crude oil production in the US hit an all-time annual high record of 12.23 million barrels per day (bpd) last year, while natural gas output also hit a record annual high level of 111.5 billion cubic feet (3.16 billion cubic meters) per day, the EIA said in a statement.
This marked an increase of 11.3% for crude oil production from 10.99 million bpd in 2018, and a rise of 9.7% for natural gas output from 101.7 billion cubic feet (2.88 billion cubic meters) per day, according to the EIA data.
However, these record-high figures for both crude oil and natural gas production in the US were achieved despite fewer oil and gas rigs working in the country.
'For 2019, the average active rig count per month was 943, and the average count of new wells drilled per month was 1,400, according to Baker Hughes rig data and IHS Markit well data,' the EIA said in the statement.
'Both the number of active rigs and the number of wells drilled were at the lower end of the range during the past 45 years, despite the record production,' it added.
One of the major factors behind higher production despite fewer wells and rigs is the ability to access shale formations using horizontal drilling that can drill longer horizontal wells, according to the EIA.
'Horizontal wells in the US averaged about 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) of lateral length in the early 2000s but averaged 18,000 feet (5,486 meters) in 2019,' the EIA said.
'Because horizontal wells now account for a larger share of new wells, the average linear footage per well increased from 6,000 feet (1828 meters) to 15,000 feet (4572 meters) during the same period,' it added.
Widespread use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing methods since 2008 has kicked off the shale revolution in the US, which elevated the country to the top global spot in oil and gas production.
By Ovunc Kutlu