U.S. oil and natural gas production increased between 2014 and 2017 despite a decline in the number of wells in the country, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday.
The total number of wells producing crude oil and natural gas in the U.S. was at a peak level of 1,039,000 in 2014, however, that level decreased to 991,000 in 2017, the EIA said in a statement, marking a 4.6 percent decline.
"This recent decline in the number of wells reflects advances in technology and drilling techniques," the statement said.
Vertical wells, which are more common in the U.S., have decreased from 940,000 in 2014 to 864,000 in 2017. However, horizontal wells, which are more rare but more productive, increased during that period.
There were 99,000 horizontal wells drilled in 2014 that accounted for 10 percent of the total number of wells in the U.S. In 2017, that number rose to 127,000 accounting for 13 percent of the total in the country, the EIA said.
"Although horizontal wells are more expensive to drill than vertical wells, they contact more reservoir rock and therefore produce greater volumes ... As these relatively prolific horizontal wells became more common, production growth continued even as the well count fell," the statement said.
For comparison in productivity, in order to meet 100 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil production in 2017, only 1 percent of vertical wells could do so, whereas 30 percent of horizontal wells could produce this level.
- Oil, gas production rise
Despite fewer wells in the U.S., oil and natural gas production has increased by an average of 6 percent between 2014 and 2017.
Oil production increased from 8.7 million bpd in 2014 to 9.3 million bpd in 2017, according to the EIA, noting a 6.9 percent jump.
During that period, U.S. natural gas gross withdrawals increased from 78.7 billion cubic feet per day (2.23 billion cubic meters per day) to 83.4 billion cubic feet per day (2.36 billion cubic meters per day), the EIA said, posting a 5.8 percent rise.
In August 2018, crude oil production continued to grow and reached 11.3 million bpd, while natural gas production climbed to 85.2 billion cubic feet per day (2.41 billion cubic meters per day), according to the EIA.
Most recently, the U.S.' crude oil production has increased to 11.6 million bpd for the week ending Nov. 2 to surpass Russia and taken the top global crude producer spot.
By Ovunc Kutlu