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Drilling Deeper: New Report Casts Doubt on Fracking Production Numbers

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Photo Credit: Joshua Doubek/Creative Commons

Post Carbon Institute has published a report calling into question the production statistics touted by promoters of  hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"). By calculating the production numbers on a well-by-well basis for shale gas and tight oil fields throughout the U.S., Post Carbon concludes that the future of fracking is not nearly as bright as industry cheerleaders suggest.

The report, "Drilling Deeper: A Reality Check on U.S. Government Forecasts for a Lasting Tight Oil & Shale Gas Boom," authored by Post Carbon fellow  J. David Hughes, updates an earlier report  he authored for Post Carbon in 2012.

Hughes analyzed the production stats for seven tight oil basins and seven gas basins, which account for 88-percent and 89-percent of current shale gas production.

Among the key findings:

-By 2040, production rates from the Bakken Shale and Eagle Ford Shale will be less than a tenth of that projected by the Energy Department. For the top three shale gas fields - the  Marcellus Shale, Eagle Ford and Bakken - production rates from these plays will be about a third of the EIA forecast.

-The three year average well decline rates for the seven shale oil basins measured for the report range from an astounding 60-percent to 91-percent. That means over those three years, the amount of oil coming out of the wells decreases by that percentage. This translates to 43-percent to 64-percent of their estimated ultimate recovery dug out during the first three years of the well's existence.      
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