EIA recently revealed the Annual Energy Outlook 2018 (AEO2018) Reference case project that the production of tight oil is likely to increase by 2040s in the US. It will cross 8.2 MMbpd and will be the 70% of total oil production in US. In 2017, 54% of the US total amounted for the tight oil production. According to AEO2018, the tight oil is the major source for the production of crude oil in US. Tight oil resource development is more than that of non-tight oil development. This is so because it cost of crude oil in future, drilling technology and availability of resources must be determined.
Tight Oil: Growth
There has been a growth in the production of crude oil in US due to the development of tight oil resources especially in the Permian Basin. There are three major tight oils in the Permian Basin- the Spraberry, Bone Spring and Wolf Camp. This is 36% of the US tight oil production according to the reports of 2017. It is estimated that by 2050, these three plays will account for 43% of increase in the tight oil production as per the AEO2018 Reference case. Also the Reference case estimated that by 2050 the Bakken and Eagle Ford formations will become the major centres for contributing towards the tight oil production with 20% and 17% respectively.
As per AEO2018 the tight oil production will increase by 8.2 MMbdp in 2040 and will remain the same till 2050. This will happen because the development would gradually move into the less productive areas. In the next 20 years, the tight oil production is estimated to increase from 9.3 MMbpd (2017) to 12 MMbpd by early 2040s. However, it is also estimated, that this MMbpd will decrease slightly by 2050.
Tight Oil: Future growth
The future growth of tight oil production is solely dependent on the quality of resources, technology and improvement in operations. These factors will aid in enhancing the productivity with reduced market price and costs. However, all these factors are interconnected and has no certainty. AEO2018 has included various cases that has assumptions regarding the future, price, technology and availability of resources.
The High and Low Oil and Gas Resource and Technology
As per the estimates of High Oil and Gas Resource and Technology, the tight oil production by 2050 is estimated to be 14.6 MMbpd. This will happen because of the higher productivity lead to reduced production cost.
According to the Low Oil and Gas Resource and Technology, the tight oil production by 2050 is estimated to be 12.2 MMbpd. Therefore, as per the rate of 5.0 MMbpd of 2017, the tight oil production in US will reach to 10.0 MMbpd in 2025. However, in less productive areas, the MMbpd may decline to 8.4. The higher price will thus help to increase the price of drilling.
By 2030, the tight oil production is estimated to rise by 15.0 MMbpd in West Texas Intermediate (WIT) spots.
Therefore, the MMbpd will rise from 9.3 (2017) to 9.7 (2021). 2050 will account for 64% of oil production in US and will remain constant from 2040 to 2050.