Over 1.1 Million Active Oil and Gas Wells in the US

Many people ask us how many wells have been hydraulically fractured in the United States.  It is an excellent question, but not one that is easily answered; most states don’t release data on well stimulation activities.  Also, since the data are released by state regulatory agencies, it is necessary to obtain data from each state that has oil and gas data to even begin the conversation.  We’ve finally had a chance to complete that task, and have been able to aggregate the following totals:

Oil and gas summary data of drilled wells in the United States.

Oil and gas summary data of drilled wells in the United States.

 

While data on hydraulically fractured wells is rarely made available, the slant of the wells are often made accessible.  The well types are as follows:

  • Directional:  Directional wells are those where the top and the bottom of the holes do not line up vertically.  In some cases, the deviation is fairly slight.  These are also known as deviated or slant wells.
  • Horizontal:  Horizontal wells are directional wells, where the well bore makes something of an “L” shape.  States may have their own definition for horizontal wells.  In Alaska, these wells are defined as those deviating at least 80° from vertical.  Currently, operators are able to drill horizontally for several miles.
  • Directional or Horizontal:  These wells are known to be directional, but whether they are classified as horizontal or not could not be determined from the available data.  In many cases, the directionality was determined by the presence of directional sidetrack codes in the well’s API number.
  • Vertical:  Wells in which the top hole and bottom hole locations are in alignment.  States may have differing tolerances for what constitutes a vertical well, as opposed to directional.
  • Hydraulically Fractured:  As each state releases data differently, it wasn’t always possible to get consistent data.  These wells are known to be hydraulically fractured, but the slant of the well is unknown.
  • Not Fractured:  These wells have not been hydraulically fractured, and the slant of the well is unknown.
  • Unknown:  Nothing is known about the slant, stimulation, or target formation of the well in question.
  • Unknown (Shale Formation):  Nothing is known about the slant or stimulation of the wells in question; however, it is known that the target formation is a major shale play.  Therefore, it is probable that the well has been hydraulically fractured, with a strong possibility of being drilled horizontally.

Wells that have been hydraulically fractured might appear in any of the eight categories, with the obvious exception of “Not Fractured.”  Categories that are very likely to be fractured include, “Horizontal”, “Hydraulically Fractured”, and “Unknown (Shale Formation),” the total of which is about 32,000 wells.  However, that number doesn’t include any wells from Texas or Colorado, where we know thousands wells have been drilled into major shale formations, but the data had to be placed into categories that were more vague.


Oil and gas wells in the United States, as of February 2014. Location data were not available for Maryland (n=104), North Carolina (n=2), and Texas (n=303,909).  To access the legend and other map tools, click the expanding arrows icon in the top-right corner.

The standard that we attempted to reach for all of the well totals was for wells that have been drilled but have not yet been plugged, which is a broad spectrum of the well’s life-cycle.  In some cases, decisions had to be made in terms of which wells to include, due to imperfect metadata.

No location data were available for Maryland, North Carolina, or Texas.  The first two have very few wells, and officials in Maryland said that they expect to have the data available within about a month.  Texas location data is available for purchase, however such data cannot be redistributed, so it was not included on the map.

It should not be assumed that all of the wells that are shown in  the map above the shale plays and shale basin layers are actually drilled into shale.  In many cases, however, shale is considered a source rock, where hydrocarbons are developed, before the oil and gas products migrate upward into shallower, more conventional formations.

The raw data oil and gas data is available for download on our site in shapefile format.

 

47 replies
  1. Christine
    Christine says:

    So this is total producing oil and gas wells, not just those pumping fracked shale gas? Also, do you know of anywhere I could find the total number of oil and gas wells in the United States, both producing and plugged? Thanks! (p.s. your site is an awesome resource– I love it!)

  2. Hunter
    Hunter says:

    Hi Matt,
    I am researching oil and gas production, but in the context of who is the producer for a certain well or lease. I was wondering how you collected this data, does each state regulatory commission have a data set for download, or did you have to scrape the websites for the data? Also do you have any good resources for finding this kind of data?

    • Matt Kelso
      Matt Kelso says:

      Hunter,

      We get our data by going to each state’s regulatory agency. The operator data is generally part of the wells drilled or permit issued file. Each state has their own way of distributing O&G data, although I will tell you that lease data is not very common to come across. The links to the state regulatory agencies should be found in the “Details” sections of our maps.

  3. Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson
    Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson says:

    Please include information about extreme fracturing such as:
    acid fracturing,
    matrix acidization,
    acid stimulation treatment,
    acid well stimulation,
    carbon dioxide flooding,
    or other chemical treatments
    thanks. We experienced extreme fracking in Florida this past year, when a Dan A. Hughes Company illegally fracked a location within the Everglades

  4. Matt Roeser
    Matt Roeser says:

    Hi I’m doing some research on the oil and gas industry in Colorado and I am having difficulty resolving two numbers. The total number of active wells is over 10,000, but the total number of rigs is 80+, so can you tell me the difference between an active well versus an active rig?
    thanks in advance.

    Matt Roeser

  5. Mark Anderson
    Mark Anderson says:

    Is it best to map out using the zip codes the areas where drilling of shale gas is most active or should we do it by county or what?

  6. Tim
    Tim says:

    Thanks for posting, very helpful information.

    A follow-up question: The EIA reports ~500,000 active gas producing wells in the US in 2012 (http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/ng_prod_wells_s1_a.htm). Wanted to get your thoughts on the difference between that and the 1.1M you have – do you think the majority of the difference is driven by oil wells? Or do you think they used a more exclusive definition of “active well”?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Matt Kelso
      Matt Kelso says:

      Great question. The page that you linked to showed producing gas wells in the US. According to their definition page, that excludes all wells that produce any amount of oil. Also, we compiled wells that are between the phases of having been drilled, and having been permanently plugged. Producing well totals won’t capture wells that are shut-in, in the process of being plugged, or inappropriately abandoned, for example.

      Matt

  7. Sam Malone, MPH, CPH
    Sam Malone, MPH, CPH says:

    An update on drilling in North Carolina from our readers…

    The state has fast-tracked the application process for testing of shale gas potential in Graham County, Macon and Jackson counties. Testing there is likely to begin by August of 2014.

    • Teresa Ferraz Agosin
      Teresa Ferraz Agosin says:

      http://www.blackeaglegroup.co

      We are manufacture of FRAC SAND from SPAIN. What are the needs in the USA import FRAC SAND? What kind of problems it will solve or create considering the problems related with whether, plants and logistics and changing in schedules?

      • Matt Kelso
        Matt Kelso says:

        Hi Teresa,

        The FracTracker Alliance is not an industry organization, so we’re not the best equipped to answer your question. However, the State of Minnesota has a very informative page that covers some of the desirable characteristics and associated risks of the frac sand mining industry.

        Matt

  8. Mike lanie
    Mike lanie says:

    South Central Kansas & Northern Oklahoma oil play is still moving at a fast pace. Each well drilled is a new experiment in technology . Great future for new oil resources in this play.

    Mike

  9. Josh
    Josh says:

    Again, fantastic work from fractracker.org. This website is a great resource. I’m wondering, however, how I might procure the data on the Texas wells (and in a form so that it can be integrated with the rest of this dataset). Could you point me in the right direction? Thanks.

    • Matt Kelso
      Matt Kelso says:

      Each state releases their data in a different way. We chose the most basic data, so as to get the best representation from the most states. Still, some of these do mention whether they are oil or gas wells.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] wells for extracting shale gas. Unprecedented growth followed. According to a 2014 report by FracTracker Alliance, over 1.1 million active oil and gas wells exist in the […]

  2. […] wells for extracting shale gas. Unprecedented growth followed. According to a 2014 report by FracTracker Alliance, over 1.1 million active oil and gas wells exist in the […]

  3. […] still have over 1.1 Million active gas and oil wells in US that were hydraulically fractured and who knows how many worldwide. So those will have to be […]

  4. […] Over 1.1 Million active oil & gas wells in the US. – FracTracker https://www.fractracker.org/2014/03/active-gas-and-oil-wells-in-us/ Mar 4, 2014 … Active oil & gas summary data of drilled wells in the United States categorized by state and type of well. […]

  5. […] and Gas lobby was spending over 100M a year.  In fact, the sheer number of wells in 2014 – more than 1 million – compared to 342,000 in 2000 goes to show that this industry has grown very quickly […]

  6. […] is exploding across the country, and many states are feeling the consequences. According to FracTracker Alliance, an estimated 1.1 million wells have been or are being drilled in the U.S. With so many unanswered […]

  7. […] is exploding across the country, and many states are feeling the consequences. According to FracTracker Alliance, an estimated 1.1 million wells have been or are being drilled in the U.S. With so many unanswered […]

  8. […] one out of a hundred times in Colorado and in somewhere between 0.4 and 12.2 percent of wells (considering over a million have already been dug in the US), drilling leakage cannot be considered “widespread [and] systemic”. Statistically, it […]

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  10. […] approximately 1.1 million active oil and gas wells in the U.S., according to data compiled by the research group FracTracker. While it is difficult to know how many of those are fracking wells, due to a mixed bag of state […]

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  13. […] It’s extremely difficult to determine how many fracked oil and gas wells there are in the US, for the simple reason that most states don’t release that data to the public. Some states don’t even require that data be reported by oil and gas companies at all. But according to FracTracker, which has done the difficult work of compiling as much information as possible on unconventional drilling and well stimulation techniques, the U.S.has over 1.1 million active oil and gas wells. […]

  14. […] It’s extremely difficult to determine how many fracked oil and gas wells there are in the US, for the simple reason that most states don’t release that data to the public. Some states don’t even require that data be reported by oil and gas companies at all. But according to FracTracker, which has done the difficult work of compiling as much information as possible on unconventional drilling and well stimulation techniques, the U.S. has over 1.1 million active oil and gas wells. […]

  15. […] It’s extremely difficult to determine how many fracked oil and gas wells there are in the US, for the simple reason that most states don’t release that data to the public. Some states don’t even require that data be reported by oil and gas companies at all. But according to FracTracker, which has done the difficult work of compiling as much information as possible on unconventional drilling and well stimulation techniques, the U.S. has over 1.1 million active oil and gas wells. […]

  16. […] are currently more than 1.1 million active oil and gas wells in the United States, and more than 15 million Americans now live within a mile of the hundreds of […]

  17. […] development. Texas alone – home to 26% of the nation’s active oil and gas wells according to work by our Matt Kelso – accounted for 14% of wind-power installation capacity coming online (Gearino, 2013). This […]

  18. […] data available from individual state governments, FracTracker researchers counted more than 1.1 million active oil and gas wells across 36 states. The group published most of the raw well location data on its website and […]

  19. […] Over 1.1 Million Active Oil and Gas Wells in the US. In WV, the conventional well count is 59,514; for shale 3,696; for a total of 63,910, as of May […]

  20. […] are currently more than 1.1 million active oil and gas wells in the United States, and more than 15 million Americans now live within a mile of the hundreds of […]

  21. […] are currently more than 1.1 million active oil and gas wells in the U.S., and more than 15 million Americans now live within a mile of the hundreds of […]

  22. […] this is true elsewhere in the US, where over 1,000,000 wells exist, and globally; more are being added every day. Is it fair to soil this legacy for our […]

  23. […] this is true elsewhere in the US, where over 1,000,000 wells exist, and globally; more are being added every day. Is it fair to soil this legacy for our […]

  24. […] of March 2014 there were approximately 1.1 million oil and gas wells in the United States, a direct consequence of technological advances that have increased domestic […]

  25. […] data available from individual state governments, FracTracker researchers counted more than 1.1 million active oil and gas wells across 36 states. The group published most of the raw well location data on its website and mapped […]

  26. […] data available from individual state governments, FracTracker researchers counted more than 1.1 million active oil and gas wells across 36 states. The group published most of the raw well location data on its website and […]

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  29. […] are currently more than 1.1 million active oil and gas wells in the United States, and more than 15 million Americans now live within a mile of the hundreds of […]

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