Mar 10, 2023 01:16 PM

U.S. Shale Boom Shows Signs of Peaking as Big Oil Wells Disappear

Traffic streams past an oil refinery in the U.S. on Oct. 4. Photo: VCG
Traffic streams past an oil refinery in the U.S. on Oct. 4. Photo: VCG

By Collin Eaton and Benoît Morenne

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The boom in oil production that over the last decade made the U.S. the world’s largest producer is waning, suggesting the era of shale growth is nearing its peak.

Frackers are hitting fewer big gushers in the Permian Basin, America’s busiest oil patch, the latest sign they have drained their catalog of good wells. Shale companies’ biggest and best wells are producing less oil, according to data reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reported last year companies would exhaust their best U.S. inventory in a handful of years if they resumed the breakneck drilling pace of prepandemic times.

Now, recent results out of the Permian, spread across West Texas and New Mexico, are mimicking the onset of a production plateau that has taken place at other, more mature U.S. shale plays.

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