Fracked Oil Wells Declining Faster than Drillers Might Realize, Report Says

“The Permian is a tough basin,” says an analyst behind the report

Oil and gas development seen in the West Texas Permian Basin.

West Texas oil drillers might be over-estimating how long their wells are going to last. That’s the takeaway from a new report that says the problem could lead to higher costs for the industry in the years ahead.

In the grand scheme of oil history, the fracking revolution is still pretty young. So, companies don’t know a lot about how fracked wells are going to perform over the course of decades, like they do with older wells.  

Now, research firm Wood Mackenzie says it’s found that production from some West Texas wells is declining faster than drillers might realize.

“The Permian is a tough basin, and as it matures, there are more and more challenges that are emerging,” says the firm’s Robert Clarke, a co-author on the new report. “And that’s to be expected.”

Clarke says if this trend continues, with fracked wells delivering less than expected as they get older, companies will have to drill even more new wells to make up for the loss. That’s not expected to slow down the growth in Texas oil production, Clarke says, but it could make the whole equation more expensive.