EIA: Shale's share of U.S. production will increase through 2050

By Staff | April 23, 2018

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) said recent growth in U.S. crude production has come primarily from tight, light sweet oil from shale formations. It’s accounted for almost 90 percent of the 3.1 million barrel per day (bpd) growth from 2010 to 2017.

In addition, shale oil represents 56 percent of total domestic crude production in 2017. In its Annual Energy Outlook 2018, EIA forecasts that this share will grow to 60 percent by 2020 and 70 percent by 2050.

According to the agency, U.S. supply of lighter crudes from tight formations, such as the Bakken in North Dakota and the Wolfcamp and Eagle Ford in Texas, is projected to continue to outpace that of medium and heavier crudes. Medium-gravity sour crudes—primarily Alaskan and Lower 48 states offshore production—accounted for about 30 percent of 2017 U.S. crude oil production and are projected to account for 18 percent of 2050 production, the EIA said.

EIA projects that more than 80 percent of U.S. oil production from 2017 through 2050 will occur in the Gulf Coast and Midwest regions. Most of the growth in light, sweet crude production is projected in the Gulf Coast, increasing from 3.1 million bpd in 2017 to 5.3 million bpd in 2050.

“The Permian Basin has developed into one of the more active drilling regions in the United States because of its large geographic size, spanning 53 million acres across western Texas and southeastern New Mexico, and favorable geology, with many prolific tight oil formations such as the Wolfcamp, Spraberry, and Bonespring,” the EIA said. “The Midwest region is home to the Bakken formation in North Dakota, another significant source of light, sweet crude oil production.”

The agency noted that the pace and duration of projected crude oil production increases are dependent on crude oil prices and the quality and amount of technically recoverable resources.