Some of the reasons for the success of shale have nothing at all to do with rig count or service providers or “regulatory certainty.” One reason, although not for any the continuing Frackanomic crowd talks about, is literally built on sand:
During the past several years, massive step changes have occurred in shale development methods. I mean truly remarkable, once-in-a-lifetime type changes. These advances are now unlocking extraordinarily difficult-to-access O&G resources at a pace unimaginable only five years ago.
The three biggest advances became apparent and accelerated during back-to-back ~12-month adoption phases:
•2012 was the year of drilling efficiency gains. The spread of fast moving, highly capable new gen land rigs started to cut average drilling times per well significantly. We heard alot about the “bifurcation between well count and rig count” in 2012.
•2013 was the year of pad drilling. Operators embraced the pad concept en masse and well counts continued to diverge from rig counts.
•2014 is looking like the year of more frac sand. As a result of downhole intensity increases, more frac sand is being pumped per well. Frac stage spacing is tightening and sand loading per stage is rising as operators seek to maximize reservoir contact.
The future always happens sooner than people think. It’s only six years to 2020. The changes for then are in the cards today. Prepare to be amazed.
Editor’s Note: This is a condensed version of the full article, found here, which goes into much greater depth on the implications for shale gas in Europe.