Back in the olden days of the SCOOP/STACK play—back when it was simply the Mississippi Limestone—we’d send a frac crew out at 4am to set up, frac 3 stages at dawn, and head home by 4pm. We could frac one well per day and typically take Sundays off.
It was 1980 and that kind of drilling and hydraulic fracturing activity was seen all across the US. Since it took about 30 days to drill a well in 1980, and because we frac’d each well in a single day, the ratio of drilling rigs to frac spreads was about 25 to 1. In other words, one frac spread was enough to frac all the wells drilled by 25 drilling rigs.
By 1990, this ratio hadn’t changed much…maybe 20 to 1.
By 2000, it still hadn’t changed much because we were mainly drilling vertical wells with a few horizontal wells in the Austin Chalk. 14 to 1.
In 2005, the horizontal gas well drilling craze was in full swing, but a LOT of horizontal wells were completed openhole without many attempts to do multiple stage fracs. 10 to 1.
By 2010, the industry discovered it could drill and frac oil wells and oil would FLOW out. 7 to 1.
In 2015, the collapse in drilling activity was just getting good and started and the only wells drilled were the huge, profitable wells. 4 to 1.
In 2018, we’re drilling multiple well pads, popping out a well every 8 days, and laterals are incredibly long with 40-60 stages. 2 to 1.
In 2020, will the ratio be 1 to 1?
PS: Back in 1981 we had about 1M HHP and 5,000 drilling rigs running in North America. Today? 25M HHP takes care of a bit more than 1,000 active drilling rigs.