Many wells behind the energy gush are quickly losing productivity, and some areas could hit peak levels sooner than the U.S. government expects, according to analyses presented last week at a Geological Society of America meeting in Denver.
Two researchers are quoted in this study who think the boom will end more-quickly, at least within the regions currently being drilled. Later, however, we hear:
The boom will continue for decades, says William Fleckenstein, a petroleum engineering professor at the Colorado School of Mines, which receives funding from the fossil fuel industry. He says major shale regions are performing better than expected. Though well productivity falls quickly after the first year or two, he says the initial gush gives investors a quick payback.
"The technology is going to improve," he says, adding that forecasts based on shale wells drilled even a few years ago won't be accurate. He points to EIA data, released in October, that shows how rig productivity has increased over the last year for new oil wells in the Bakken and Eagle Ford and for gas wells in the Haynesville and the huge Marcellus shale, which stretches from New York south to West Virginia.The production level, of course, is key to the prices we'll see for natural gas in the future. Based on the rhetoric of the amount of shale gas available, I've always been of the opinion that even additional exports won't affect the price much in the next 10-15 years, as there is so much room for additional oil production. If it slows down that could change things. I find the optimistic view more likely.