U.S. Energy Information Administration – EIA

April 21, 2022

The dataset recently added to our Monthly energy balance (MER) provide information on crude oil and natural gas well completions and drilled images for U.S. wells completed since 2010. In 2021, 81% of U.S. well completions were horizontal or directional, compared to 19% of wells drilled vertically. Horizontal and directional wells involve drilling a vertical well and then, at a certain depth, bending the path of the drilling away from the vertical well. Although the total number of crude oil and natural gas wells completed in the United States has decreased by 66% between 2010 and 2021, and the total number of meters (drilling length) has decreased by 30%, the production of Crude oil in the United States more than doubled and gross production in United States natural gas withdrawals increased by 55%.

average yardage drilled per crude oil and natural gas well in the United States


As horizontal and directional wells have become more common in the United States, the average length of wells drilled has more than doubled from 7,300 feet per well to 15,200 feet per well between 2010 and 2021. Horizontal and directional wells are longer than vertical wells, which allows them to access more geological formations containing crude oil and natural gas, which increases the productivity of these wells.

monthly rotary rigs in service in the United States


As global demand for petroleum fuels declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, drilling operators developed fewer new crude oil and natural gas wells. The average number of U.S. rotary rigs, which are used to drill new crude oil and natural gas wells, fell to a low of 250 rigs in August 2020, the lowest number in monthly data on the number of Baker Hughes rigs, the history of which we publish from 1973 The number of rotating rigs in operation has increased every month since then and recently reached 636 rotating rigs in operation in February 2022.

Main contributor: Brett Marohl