They Paved Paradise
“Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone. They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot.”
Lyrics by Bob Dylan, Made Famous by Joni Mitchell
Big Spring Area; GIS, above; Wolfcamp and Spraberry wells everywhere.
Do people actually believe America can now, in 2022, become energy independent and stave off Russia and OPEC imports by drilling one, $10MM, 400,ooo barrel EUR Wolfcamp well at a time, drilled on 330 acre spacing... in West Texas? There are already 38,000 HZ wells out there bumping into each other, drilled to every economic bench there is to drill into.
Try this...think of the Permian Basin HZ tight oil play as one giant parking lot stuffed full of wells; the white cars are Wolfcamp wells, grey ones are Bone Springs wells and there is some red Sprayberry wells in this lot too.
There are a few empty spaces left to park more cars in, but this lot is getting really damn full. Those other parking lots way away from the terminal, suck; you have to take shuttles way out there. Those lots out there don't work even at $100 oil, no sir; not with all that legacy debt they have accumulated and/or walked on the past decade. Not with well productivity going down, GOR and WOR going up.
They paved paradise with Wolfcamp wells...and exported most it away. The American consumer benefited very little. Almost 5 billion barrels of America's last remaining, affordable oil resources has been exported to foreign countries since 2016 from the Permian Basin. As soon as the export ban was lifted, The Binge began.
Now the remainder of America's hope for hydrocarbon security lies in lot five.
The sort of future the tight oil sector creates for itself, and America's long term energy future, will require hundreds of thousands more horizontal wells. Where is the steel, the manpower, the sand, the fuel, the cement, and the water ! going to come from and where are they going to put the damn things?
Left, there are 19,000 HZ tight oil wells in the Delaware Basin so far; after eight years the play is pretty much delineated. Step off to the west and what you find is shit like Alpine High, to the south, Waterworld. Where do 100,000 more wells go in that mess?
Here's a novel idea for my industry...
If we want people to trust us, hold us in higher regard, respect us, give some of you (that need it) more money, start telling the damn truth about the future. Quit lying about sustainability; you screwed that up when you lied so badly about tight oil profitability.
In the mean time, industry "spokesmen" need to quit whining about government not being fair, or understanding. Its NEVER been fair in the 50 years I've been an oil and gas operator. The API, IPAA, Energy Strong, Texas Alliance of Oil and Gas Producers, all those guys sound like big crybabies...at $110 oil and $5 natgas, no less! Good grief; that's embarrassing as hell. And it just pisses off the public, and dumb politicians, even more than they already were.