WASHINGTON, July 7, 2016 - Stripper wells are still strong in number, but produced only about 10 percent of U.S. oil output last year, compared to 19 percent in 2008, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

This decrease in share reflects the large increase of production volume from very prolific wells drilled in shale and tight oil formations with enhanced completion techniques, EIA says. These wells, as well as non-shale onshore and offshore wells in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and other areas, produce at a much higher rate than stripper wells, and account for a much larger percentage of total U.S. oil production.

By the end of 2015, EIA estimates there were about 380,000 stripper oil wells operating across the U.S., compared to about 90,000 nonstripper oil wells. The wells are known as “strippers” because they are stripping the remaining oil out of the ground, and characterized as producing no more than 15 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) over a 12-month period.

Although each stripper well has small individual production, their large number ensures a significant contribution to total oil production. Plus, these wells usually have low ongoing maintenance costs, says EIA, and relatively low transportation costs to move their products to distribution systems. As long as these wells are economically feasible, they are kept active and may continue to produce for many years.

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The well counts in EIA’s analysis include oil wells that may also produce some natural gas. Wells producing less than 6,000 cubic feet of natural gas per barrel of oil are considered oil wells, while wells producing 6,000 cubic feet or more of natural gas per barrel of oil are considered gas wells. The EIA notes that stripper gas wells produce no more than 90,000 cubic feet per day of natural gas over 12 months.


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