The variety of drilled however uncompleted wells (DUC) that accrued on the top of the pandemic has already subsided to pre-Covid-19 ranges within the US, a Rystad Energy evaluation exhibits. After swelling to a multi-year excessive of 6,548 wells in June 2020, the variety of such wells within the nation’s main oil areas slimmed right down to round 5,700 wells by the top of December 2020.
The stock of reside DUCs, which excludes tentatively deserted wells drilled a very long time in the past, additionally declined by round 800 wells in the identical interval, from four,353 in June to three,528 in December. The present degree of horizontal oil reside DUC rely is akin to the extent seen in early 2020, simply earlier than the market downturn began.
“Given the latest restoration in oil costs, the business is having fun with the flexibleness of additional accelerating fracking exercise past present ranges within the first half of the 12 months. Such an acceleration may very well be delivered, as could be implied from the ratio of the present ‘reside’ DUC stock to the run price of fracking, which remains to be within the six-to-eight-month vary, in comparison with the conventional degree of about three months seen in 2018-2019,” says Artem Abramov, Head of Shale Research at Rystad Energy.
As of 21 January 2021, we recognized 626 began frac operations in North America for December 2020 and we count on the month’s fact-based protection to be virtually full. For January 2021, we mission that there will probably be 830 wells fracked, the very best month-to-month complete after March 2020, when the Covid-19 induced downturn started.
Back to DUCs, almost all main oil areas adopted the nationwide development in 2020, first exhibiting an uncommon stock build-up within the second quarter after which transferring towards a gradual depletion within the second half of the 12 months. The Permian Basin accounted for round 55% of the overall horizontal ‘reside’ oil DUC stock as of December 2020, at round 1,900, and it accounted for a comparable share of the drawdown via the second half of the 12 months, because the basin’s reside DUCs peaked at 2,400 wells in June 2020.

Given the present surroundings of capital self-discipline and deal with free money circulate technology, Rystad expects the business to largely follow its unique fracking packages within the first half of the 12 months, however most likely allocate some further capex to a extra vital improve within the rig rely. This will end in an upside in frac exercise from the second half of the 12 months, and sure deviations from the upkeep program will probably be seen towards the top of the 12 months, assuming that WTI holds above the $50 per barrel mark.
(Source: Rystad Energy – Image: Frac operation in Claysville, PA, in 2011/ Keith Srakocic)


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