Going Sideways

Almost 90 per cent of oil wells added in 2015 were horizontal

Weak oil prices are translating into fewer wells being drilled and placed on production in Alberta. However, the percentage of horizontal wells is on the rise.

The number of crude oil wells (also known as conventional oil wells) placed on production in 2015 fell by 59 per cent to 1060; as of July 2016, about 250 had been placed on production.

Worth noting is that 89 per cent of the 2015 total were horizontal wells—79 per cent of which used horizontal multistage fracturing technology to bring them into production. In 2014, around 86 per cent of new crude oil wells were horizontal; back in 2010, only 60 per cent were. The average length of the horizontal sections has continued to increase, which results in greater production per well.

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) foresees the total number of oil wells placed on production will slowly rise through to 2025, consistent with an overall strengthening crude oil price forecast for this period. However, the number is not forecast to return to levels seen in 2012 when 3135 wells were placed on production.

The AER’s forecast is based on a combination of assumptions about crude oil prices, higher production from individual wells, and Alberta’s declining crude oil reserves.

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