Oil and gas wells proliferate, improve production in Texas

The Railroad Commission of Texas authorized the drilling of more than 1,400 new oil and gas wells during August.

Last week, the Railroad Commission of Texas released a slew of statistics highlighting the industry's performance during August and July. The agency issued 1,606 original drilling permits in August, of which more than 1,400 were to authorize the drilling of new oil and gas wells.

This represented a slight decline from August 2012, when more than 2,000 drilling permits were issued. However, the large number of permits issued last year seems to have driven ongoing gains in well completion and hydrocarbon production, yielding substantial economic benefits for residents of the Lone Star State, as well as the U.S. economy as a whole.

Oil production up by approximately 30 percent year-over-year

The commission reported that more than 2,000 oil and gas wells were completed in August, up from less than 1,200 completions during the same month in 2012. This brought the number of year-to-date completions above 17,000—nearly double the number recorded during the same period in 2012—which may drive an expansion of output throughout the state. At the same time, preliminary figures for July already offer a reason for industry stakeholders to be optimistic.

Texas oil wells reportedly produced about 1,685,786 barrels per day in July, yielding a monthly total of 52,259,355 barrels. These figures marked a year-over-year increase in production of about 30 percent. Gas production also increased, rising about 7 percent year-over-year to reach 571,285,336 thousand cubic feet during July. These production levels represented the output of 155,654 oil wells and 91,757 gas wells.

With the figures broken down by county, six of the top 10 oil producers are located in the Eagle Ford region, including Karnes County, which remains the state's largest oil producer. Furthermore, the county with the highest gas production, Tarrant, is located in the Barnett shale. These facts underscore the growing role that hydraulic fracturing is playing in the U.S. energy industry, and particularly in Texas, which is by far the highest-producing state.

Texas continues to host more than half of all active land-based drilling rigs in the United States. Through September 20, the state's average rig count was 927. The sheer amount of oil production equipment deployed in the state indicates that the ongoing boom is set to continue for some time to come.