In the fourth quarter of 2013, the United States produced 7.84 million barrels of oil per day, according to new data from the Energy Information Administration. This was enough to account for over 10% of total global production for the quarter, which is up from a 9% share in the last quarter of 2012. Of the 7.84 million bpd, 3.22 million bpd came from tight oil production.
Most of that production came from the Eagle Ford and Bakken Shale plays in Texas and North Dakota, respectively. They have been the poster childs of the U.S. oil boom. The Eagle Ford accounted for 1.21 million bpd, or about one-third of tight oil production. The Bakken churned out an average of 0.94 million bpd, or 28% of tight oil production. Put another way, the combined production from the Eagle Ford and the Bakken accounted for an impressive 27% of total U.S. production in the fourth quarter. (Related Article: US Using Oil to Fight Russian Gas Politics in Ukraine?)
EIA notes that tight oil production has largely been confined to the U.S., with limited quantities also produced in Canada in Russia. Canada was able to extract 0.34 million bpd, or 10% of its total, from tight oil formations in 2013. Russia produced 0.12 million bpd in 2013, which only accounted for 1% of its total.
One of the challenges for the U.S. oil industry will be to maintain production from tight oil formations, which tend to decline precipitously after an initial surge in output. Another problem looming for U.S. oil is that conventional production is not climbing. Therefore, moving forward, operators will not only have to continue to drill new tight oil wells to make up for high initial decline rates in shale plays, but also continue to ramp up production in such a way that it compensates for declining conventional production.