By BENJAMIN STORROW Star-Tribune staff writer – September 16, 2014
Oil production in the Powder River Basin more than doubled over the past five years, the U.S. Energy Information Agency reported Monday, confirming a trend many observers had long suspected.
Output in the basin grew from 38,000 barrels per day in 2009 to 78,000 barrels per day during the first quarter of this year, EIA said.
“For Wyoming, it’s a big deal,” said state Oil and Gas Supervisor Mark Watson. “The whole state has been declining for 40 years, then you turn around and double production in five. If you double the production in five years, who knows what it will be in another five.”
The increase largely came from formations long drilled in Wyoming: the Turner, Frontier, Parkman, Sussex and Shannon.
But the recent advancements in horizontal drilling and complete technology, chief among them fracking, have reversed the declines those formations had been experiencing for years.
“I knew there was an increase, but I just didn’t know how much,” said Jimmy Goolsby, a geologist at Goolsby, Finley and Associates in Casper. “I would say it’s a pretty big bump.”
Continued expansion of the drilling boom will depend on oil prices, Watson and Goolsby agreed. Domestic oil prices have been in a protracted slide for three months, though they remain above $90 per barrel – a figure many economists reckon is still economical.