U.S. Oil and Natural Gas Wells by Production Rate

Annual release:  December 11, 2017


This report provides yearly estimates of the number of producing oil and natural gas wells, which are grouped into 26 production volume brackets ranging from less than 1 barrel of oil equivalent per day (BOE/day) to more than 12,800 BOE/day. Wells are also designated as either oil or natural gas wells based on a gas-oil ratio (GOR) of 6,000 cubic feet (cf) of gas to 1 barrel (b) of oil (cf/b) for each year’s production. If the GOR is less than 6,000 cf/b, then the well is classed as an oil well. If the GOR is greater than 6,000 cf/b, then the well is classed as a natural gas well.

The total volumes shown in the distribution tables may not exactly equal other related data, including other EIA sources. Major reasons for discrepancies include: the timing of updates from state and commercial sources, the summed production of available well-level production data versus state-level aggregations of production (sometimes state-level data are available sooner than well-level data), and the definition of a well and which entity is counted and summed.

This report includes four sections: an explanation of what a well is, methodology, frequently asked questions, and suggestions for querying the downloadable Excel data file of individual state data. The distribution tables for the production rates of all U.S. oil and natural gas wells cover the years 2000 through 2016. The Appendix provides summary breakouts for the total United States, each state, the Federal Gulf of Mexico, and the Federal Pacific.

Four figures provide an overview of the distribution of producing oil and natural gas wells between 2000 and 2016 (data for 2016 are less complete than for other years). Figure 1 shows that most of the wells produce less than 15 BOE/day. Figure 2 shows the rapid increase in horizontal wells over the past decade. Figures 3 and 4 show most U.S. oil and natural gas production comes from wells producing between 100 and 3,200 BOE/day. The Appendix C spreadsheet can be used to generate these types of figures for all regions and for additional variables.

The quality and completeness of the available data used to build the tables vary by state. The data originates from state administrative records of monthly well or lease-level natural gas and liquid production. The main commercial data source is Drillinginfo, which is supplemented by IHS Markit. Some state agencies do not make well-production data available until years after production occurs, and others have never made well-production data available. For the late-reporting states–Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee–the last year of reported data is used to populate recent missing years to achieve the most complete U.S. total well counts. Data is not available for Illinois and Indiana.